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Oil and gas workers still mainly old white males despite diversity gains: study

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CALGARY, A.B. – A new study shows that Canada’s energy sector workforce became larger and more diverse from 2006 to 2016 but remains predominantly the domain of older, white males.

PetroLMI says the number of people directly employed in oil and gas grew by about 25,000 to almost 190,000 over a tumultuous decade that included booming growth due to record high oil prices and thousands of layoffs when prices crashed.

It says in a report that 17 percent of the sector’s workers were 55 or older in 2016, up from 10 percent in 2006, while the number of workers under 25 fell from 15 percent to seven percent.

The report says one thing that hasn’t changed much is the number of women in oil and gas, still at about 22 percent, with most of those people working at office jobs in finance and administration.

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PetroLMI says the proportion of Indigenous people in the industry grew slowly over the 10-year period from 5.6 percent to 6.3 percent – that’s higher than the 3.9 percent in the overall Canadian workforce.

The number of energy workers with a university degree increased from 19 to 26 percent.

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“During the most recent downturn, many younger, less experienced workers were let go,” said Carol Howes, vice-president of PetroLMI.

“Going forward the industry will need to refocus on improving the overall work environment and culture to continue to attract and retain the best talent.”

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