Resource untapped: One industry urged to exploit untapped labour well

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Under-represented groups are being presented as the answer to Canada’s oil and gas industry labour shortages, with diversity also expected to boost innovation.
A new report – HR Trends and Insights – Diversity in Canada’s Oil and Gas Workforce – finds under-represented groups could serve to plug a problematic workforce hole, while also serving to propel company competitiveness forward.
“A key strategy to manage skill shortages and to ensure sustainability is to consider under-represented groups, such as women, youth, Aboriginal people, immigrants and people with disabilities as a viable labour source,” the report form the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada states.
Some companies in oil and gas with diversity policies do so for reasons of ‘fairness and access’, according to the report – such as alleviating labour and skills shortages or obtaining the social licence to operate in the sector.
However, others are taking a ‘learning and innovation’ approach, believing that these under-represented groups could actually give them an edge.
“Beyond filling a workforce need, hiring a more diverse workforce can lead to the attraction and retention of the best employees, and improve productivity, innovation, teamwork and decision-making. This broader view of diversity results in programs that are more integrated into the business,” said the report.
The report recommended management and HR approaches for improving access to diverse candidates, improving the workplace culture to support diversity and enhancing learning and innovation by linking diversity to the business.
Presenting statistics gathered in its most recent industry survey, the council stated that representation of most under-represented groups were edging forward over time, though youth participation remained stagnant.
Though inclusion of women and people with disabilities increased in the sector between 2006 and 2011, they still remained well below Canada’s average overall, which the council said was partially due to the nature of the work.
Aboriginal people continue to punch above their weight in the sector, possibly due to the location of resource projects near large aboriginal communities.
Diversity and inclusion practices are becoming more progressive over time in the industry, with many mid-sized companies in the sector championing diversity efforts and programs from the top down. They follow leaders in diversity in the sector, which have been recognised for their diversity-inspired targeted investments, internal programs and external partnerships.
 “Skills shortages and rising labour costs have challenged Canada’s oil and gas industry for many years and are increasingly impeding the industry’s ability to grow and diversify,” the report warned.
“Oil and gas companies need to assess their workforce attraction, retention and development strategies for sustainable success.”

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