Laid off oil and gas workers look for work beyond the oilpatch

CALGARY - For 36 years, Sue Jones rode out the ups and downs of Alberta's oilpatch. But after she was laid off last March, she knew her days in the oil and gas industry were over.

See Full Article

"I'm done," said Jones, 56, who worked in data management and document control before she was let go.

"I'm older. I've been laid off so many times in oil and gas."

Great pay and plenty of jobs attracted thousands to the province, but as the decline in crude prices stretches on, some industry veterans are deciding they can no longer take the boom and bust roller-coaster.

Jones says this downturn is "the worst one" she's seen, and figures released Tuesday by Statistics Canada would appear to back her up. Alberta lost 19,600 jobs last year - the most since 1982.

After months of searching, Jones finally found a job last week working in the back office of a heat and power supply company in Calgary. She has taken a pay cut, but says she won't be going back to the oilpatch.

Lynn Berry, a Calgary career counsellor who also runs a government-supported career boot camp, says more people need to start looking elsewhere.

"People just need to get out of this, 'I need to find work in the oil and gas, and I need to make X number of dollars,' because the reality of today's economy, it might not happen and they need to figure out what they're going to do next," said Berry.

"If we're feeling bad we tend to cocoon, and we tend to fall back on what we've done in the past, and what we're saying now is that's just not working." said Berry. "If you're just waiting until it comes back, then you're wasting your time and your skills and your talent."

Susan MacDonald, a registered psychologist and career counsellor, says the downturn is a great opportunity for people to look for a career that better suits them.

"When they get laid off they're seeing it as an opportunity to say, 'Maybe I should go and check things out,"' said MacDonald.

One of her clients in her late 20s left a career as an economist in the oil industry to go to nursing school. Another in his late 30s left an information technology career in the industry to go to school to become a doctor.

Curtis Buxton spent 17 years working in the oil and gas sector before losing his job last March as a project manager for oilfield services company Schlumberger.

Two weeks after getting laid off, Buxton was taking a solar industry course in B.C. and looking for work in the renewable energy sector. It took a few months, but a project manager position finally opened up at SkyFire Energy in Calgary.

Recruiters say many companies are hesitant to hire oil and gas workers because they're concerned they will jump back to the industry when it recovers. But Buxton says he had already approached the company several times showing his interest.

"I was persistent and I showed that I wanted to enter the industry," said Buxton.

Like most who leave the oil and gas industry, he has taken a pay cut, but he says it was the right move.

"Realizing this was something I was pretty sure was going to make me happy was also a strong motivator for taking that pay cut."

Nathan Tomusange was laid off from a company manufacturing oil rig equipment in March last year.

To switch industries he went back to school for a supply management course. But he says after sending out dozens of resumes, he's only had one call back from a potential employer, and that company eventually chose someone with more experience.

At 54 with three boys at home, he says he isn't waiting around for his ideal job and has started looking into getting a taxi license. But he's also continuing with more courses, trying to figure out which industry will offer the most stability.

"We're all wondering where the jobs are," he said. "Where are they? What industries?"



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Rising old age security spending dampened by CPP increases: report

    Economic CBC News
    A mandatory review of the country's largest seniors benefit program is predicting all-time highs in spending over the coming years with waves of baby boomer retirements — spending levels that could have been even higher if not for changes to the public pension program. Source
  • Calgary airport to convert Lexus-only stalls back to accessible parking

    Economic CTV News
    Calgary International Airport has apologized for moving accessible parking stalls and setting up a Lexus marketing campaign in their place. The pavement in the parking spots was painted to indicate they were reserved for drivers of the luxury car. Source
  • Rowdy Korean Air passenger's 3-year prison sentence reversed

    Economic CTV News
    HAGATNA, Guam -- A U.S. appeals court has struck down the three-year prison sentence of a rowdy Korean Air passenger convicted of interfering with flight attendants last year on a flight to Guam. The 9th U.S. Source
  • Striking ground crew at Toronto airport to vote on new offer from employer

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The union representing striking ground crew workers at Canada's busiest airport says it has received a new contract offer that will be voted on tomorrow. About 700 baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and other ground crew employed by Swissport at Toronto's Pearson International Airport have been on strike since late July. Source
  • June retail sales a bright spot for Canadian economy: economists

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - Canadian retail sales rose slightly in June and continue to be a bright spot in the economy. Statistics Canada says in a report issued Tuesday that the retail sector's growth was 1.1 per cent, excluding automotive and gasoline sales. Source
  • CGI Group moves to expand in northern Europe with takeover of Affecto

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's largest publicly traded IT services business is moving to expand its presence in Europe through the acquisition of Affecto PLC in a friendly deal that would add about 1,000 staff in northern Europe. CGI Group Inc. Source
  • Big banks set to reveal profits this week against the backdrop of improving economy

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's biggest banks could deliver another profitable season for investors as third-quarter results starting to roll in this week are expected to get a boost from the strengthening economy. Analysts expect modest improvements from the Big Six banks, which launch their quarterly earnings reports beginning with Royal Bank on Wednesday, but some suggest the industry could outdo the conservative predictions. Source
  • BHP Billiton puts brakes on Jansen potash mine

    Economic CBC News
    BHP Billiton won't be asking its board to build the Jansen potash project any time soon. In its year-end financial results, the global resource company says it won't be asking the board for approval to go ahead with the Jansen potash project in 2018. Source
  • EU probes Bayer's planned buyout of Monsanto

    Economic CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- The European Union's anti-trust watchdog said Tuesday that it has launched a probe into German chemical maker Bayer's planned acquisition of U.S. seed and weed-killer company Monsanto.. The European Commission, which polices competition in Europe, said Tuesday it has concerns that the merger may reduce competition in areas like pesticides and seeds. Source
  • Retail sales inch higher to $49B in June

    Economic CBC News
    Sales at clothing stores increased in June, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters) Canadian retailers reported higher sales for the fourth straight month in June, as just about everything except cars and gasoline stations saw higher sales. Source