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Careers in Energy Releases National Energy Labour Market Outlook to 2035

March 15, 2024


A new report projects Canada’s energy industry could add up to 116,000 jobs by 2035, balancing rising demand with carbon reduction efforts.

Canada’s Energy Workforce: National Labour Market Outlook to 2035 provides a labour market outlook, which for the first time, examines workforce needs beyond established energy sectors to include growing or emerging sectors and technologies such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), low-carbon hydrogen, biomass-based fuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The energy industry is projected to generate between 41,600 and 46,500 new direct jobs by 2035, while another 68,700 to 69,500 energy workers are eligible to retire over the forecast period, according to two forecast scenarios developed by Careers in Energy (CIE). If Canada’s energy industry replaces all job openings created by age-related attrition—retirements and deaths—it could result in net hiring requirements of between 110,000 and 116,000 jobs.

“Canada’s energy system is evolving, it’s diversifying and integrating, and it will continue to provide high-quality, well-paying jobs for years to come,” says Energy Safety Canada President and CEO Murray Elliott. “Global demand for energy continues to grow. Canada is in an excellent position to help meet that demand and lead the way towards a responsible, low-carbon energy future.”

CIE’s research shows the mainstay of job creation will come from established energy sectors, including exploration and production, oil sands, pipelines, energy services and petroleum refining. Emerging sectors are expected to gain momentum later in the forecast period to account for eight to 10 per cent of projected jobs and increase their percentage of the total workforce to between two and three per cent by 2035.

The findings are based on two scenarios and several assumptions, including the rollout of government policies, time horizon and infrastructure development required to support expansion of Canada’s energy system. The Current Measures Scenario is based on anticipated investment and industry development most likely to occur based on announced plans, policies, and programs as of July 2023. The Opportunity Scenario is based on anticipated investment and development that could realistically occur if competitive policies, programs, incentives and economic conditions are in place.

“There are a number of variables that come into play, such as continued uncertainties about how quickly new energy sources will be scaled up and the pace at which emission-reduction technologies will be deployed,” Elliott says. “To advance Canada’s energy industry, a combination of supportive regulatory measures, incentive programs and collaboration is vital.”

Canada’s energy industry directly employs about 200,000 workers and sustains around 400,000 indirect jobs annually through its operations supply chain across the country. Approximately 5,400 additional indirect jobs are created for every $1 billion spent on energy capital projects.

According to the outlook, total direct employment for the energy industry could reach 230,940 by 2035—surpassing peak employment of 225,350 in 2014—if all the conditions and assumptions under the Opportunity Scenario are realized.

Based on annual age-related attrition rates, approximately 69,000 energy workers are eligible to retire over the forecast period to 2035. Labour shortages are expected across all the 81 core occupations CIE examined in its modelling. Manager and supervisor roles, trades, geoscientists, engineers, information technology occupations and energy drilling and servicing labourers and operators are expected to face the most significant shortages.

Regionally, Western Canada will see the benefit of new jobs with the start-up of LNG exports off the coast of British Columbia and growth in biomass-based fuels, hydrogen production and CCS. Atlantic Canada is poised to diversify its energy mix by leveraging its world-class wind power and developing biomass-based fuels and low-carbon hydrogen. Central Canada plays a vital role in providing fuel to North America’s economy as its momentum for producing low-carbon fuels continues building. Canada’s energy industry relies on the region’s finance, insurance, real estate and manufacturing sectors as they annually support over 100,000 indirect jobs.

Not only is Canada’s energy sector becoming increasingly integrated, but its workforce is as well. The foundational technology, equipment, skills and expertise required are similar across both established and emerging sectors, therefore upskilling and reskilling will be vital for energy workers’ career resilience.

“The energy workforce of today is the workforce of tomorrow,” Elliott says. “It is essential industry also attract from under-utilized labour pools—women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, racialized groups and those new to Canada—to be successful. CIE has developed several tools and resources that build a roadmap of what’s required to support that workforce of tomorrow.”

Western Canada’s Future Energy Workforce: Regional Labour Market Outlook to 2035 can be found here while other regional reports, detailed labour market data and information, and new tools and resources can be found online at CareersinEnergy.ca

This study was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.