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May 17, 2021

Labour Market Research Project

Shaping Alberta's Workforce Transition: Labour Market Research for Cleantech in Oil & Gas


The Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) is committed to reducing barriers to challenges within the oil and gas industry, including retaining and attracting a workforce able to develop and apply innovative technologies focused on addressing climate and other environmental challenges.


This 2021 research project funded by the Government of Alberta, was to develop recommendations to ensure the continuation of a skilled, innovative, and diverse talent pipeline that supports the sustainability and competitiveness of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Key to success is the integration of cleantech careers and technologies with traditional oil and gas.


Information about the research and assessment phase can be found below.


Outcomes and Resources


CAREER TOOLS: Cleantech and Transitioning Careers in Oil & Gas 

A series of guides for developing or adapting skills in cleantech and the career pathways available across the oil and gas industry. Suitable for students doing education and career planning, new graduates, and experienced workers looking to transition their careers to participate in addressing climate and other environmental challenges. 


Research Findings and Recommendations

What is the future of work in Alberta as young people look forward to careers in sustainability and environmental areas? How will experienced workers drive their careers as decarbonization transitions the oil and gas industry? The Labour Market Assessment outlines the project findings, including risks and recommendations.


Project Background

In applying cleantech to Alberta’s hydrocarbon sector, part of ensuring the industry continues to thrive during the transition to net zero is understanding how we can continue to attract investment, innovation, and, most importantly, talent. Currently, there is little data and analysis about the extent of Alberta’s workforce and its required characteristics in enabling clean technologies - which ultimately limits effective strategic workforce planning.


In an initial assessment, by PetroLMI, evidence indicated that with minimal retraining and support, many of the skills required by the evolving energy ecosystem can be sourced from the existing pool of talent. These findings highlight an opportunity to retain highly skilled workers, maintain sensible talent costs, and enhance the economic contribution of unemployed and under-employed workers to our economy.

Recognizing this initial assessment, we need to ensure that any and all barriers to this workforce transition are identified and mitigated. Doing so requires:

  • A collaborative assessment of what the labour landscape of the cleantech oil and gas ecosystem currently looks like and what its needs are moving forward
  • Effective dissemination of clean tech career and labour demand information to job seekers and those that support them including career/employment counsellors and training providers

Project Objectives and Timeline (April 2021 - November 2021) 

The objective of this research project, funded by the Government of Alberta and conducted in partnership with CRIN, is to ensure a continued skilled, innovative, and diverse talent pipeline for the emerging clean tech sector that supports the sustainability and competitiveness of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. We will do this by:

  • Completing a labour market assessment by means of facilitating workshops and surveys with employers, job seekers, and labour supply professionals
  • Disseminating tools that promote demand-driven career pathways and trainings
  • Developing a labour market outlook and strategy for the ecosystem moving forward

Market Assessment

As part of the labour market assessment component of this research, CRIN conducted a 'Talent Readiness Survey' and hosted a series of workshops to gather insight on labour demand and supply. Workshops were a valuable opportunity for diverse stakeholders to share knowledge and participate in facilitated discussion and polls about the current state of the industry and its workforce needs moving forward. This included discussing in-demand occupations, hiring challenges, and availability and readiness of talent.

Workshop participants represented both the supply and demand perspectives of labour, including:

  • Supply: Educators, trainers, career counsellors, and professional associations  who can give insight into potential opportunities and challenges for the cleantech and oil and gas industries as they look to expand their talent pool.
  • Demand - Operations and technical leaders in the oil and gas and cleantech industries who could speak to skill and occupational requirements. For example:  entrepreneurs, small business owners, producers, field operations managers, service and supply companies, and research and accelerator organizations, etc. 
  • Demand - Human Resources professionals who could speak to hiring, workforce planning, and organizational development and function. For example: recruiters, hiring managers, workforce planning and organization development professionals, etc. 

Through participation in the labour market assessment activities, and adoption of the recommendations, diverse stakeholders can continue to:

  • Leverage information provided for their own strategic planning
  • Share unique insights
  • Inform strategies that support the industry’s need to attract and retain diverse talent with expertise from technical to entrepreneurial
  • Influence career and training programs/curricula 
  • Influence individual career and training decisions

Survey participants included post-secondary students, new grads and job seekers. They provided feedback about career intentions, factors in career/employment considerations, understanding of cleantech careers, and interest in working within the oil & gas industry. Over 200 people participated in the survey.



Project Partners

The team assembled to carry out this project includes CRIN, Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC), Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance (now Foresight) and Alberta Labour and Immigration as partners, along with contracted project consultants Cheryl Knight and Pat Hufnagel-Smith.

Cheryl and Pat will conduct the research and analysis required to quantify hiring requirements for the clean tech sector and synthesize other labour market insights as evidence to inform a labour market strategy for the sector. They will work closely with the project partners to facilitate a strategy development session with clean tech employers and representative organizations and will play a key role in the implementation of the dissemination and promotion phase of this project.

Cheryl Knight was the founding Executive Director and CEO of the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada (now PetroLMI). Operating her own consulting firm since 2013, she has become one of Canada’s recognized experts in energy industry workforce issues and strategies. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Psychology, a Master of Education in Counselling and a Strategic Workforce Planning certificate. She is a recognized expert in understanding trends and influences on Canada’s labour market.

Pat Hufnagel-Smith has over 20 years’ experience providing insights into the dynamics of Canada’s labour market, emerging trends and occupations, and workforce requirements. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Certificate in Adult Education and Facilitation, Pat holds a Master’s Certificate in Project Management. Two areas Pat is most passionate about are: the effective transition of skilled and experienced workers between industries, and helping clients use labour market intelligence to develop effective talent strategies.


Together, Cheryl and Pat have partnered to provide clients innovative and practical workforce strategies to address business challenges and shifting workforce requirements under the banner Talent Needs for the Evolving Energy Ecosystem.

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