Aboriginal Employment in the Alberta Oil Sands: Success and Barriers to Success

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As the baby boomer generation retires from the workforce, the current shortage of skilled workers is expected to increase dramatically. Alberta’s oil sands will experience those shortages intensely, especially as the Temporary Foreign Workers program, responsible for a significant amount of oil sands labour, reduces the number of available workers further still. As investment in oil sands development increases, so do the number of jobs, in contrast to a decreasing labour pool. Yet the Aboriginal population is both growing and younger than the non-Aboriginal population, and the time is right to increase Aboriginal representation in the workforce, for everyone’s benefit. The purpose of this paper is to identify differences in employment practices between successful Aboriginal employers and non-Aboriginal employers, and determine if those differences support successful employment or not. The methodology used was qualitative analysis based on a case study of Cold Lake First Nations. Although a small convenience sample, the data gathered provided a personal and honest, first-hand view, through an Aboriginal perspective. Data was gathered from various stakeholders, including energy companies, successful First Nations employers, First Nations workers and a First Nations employment and training agency. Analysis considered Aboriginal education and funding, Budget 2013 financial allocations to Aboriginal communities, employment sustainability within communities, and First Nations consultation and collaboration. Results found three significant differences in hiring practices between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal employers which currently favor Aboriginal employers for the Aboriginal worker. Should energy companies wish to increase Aboriginal representation in their workforce, recognition of these differences is critical.
Jose, J. Susan. (2013). Aboriginal Employment in the Alberta Oil Sands: Success and Barriers to Success ( Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.