Suncor has developed a proactive approach to managing our skilled and technical workforce needs today and into the future

We’ve developed a proactive approach to managing our skilled and technical workforce needs today and into the future

Suncor has developed a proactive approach to managing our skilled and technical workforce needs today and into the future

Suncor has developed a proactive approach to managing our skilled and technical workforce needs today and into the future

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Despite the current downturn, business and industry continue to prepare for the long-term need for skilled labour in the construction and oil and gas sectors, including when baby boomers retire from the workforce. We have developed a proactive approach to managing our skilled and technical workforce needs today and into the future.

We believe in hiring in the communities where we operate. But not all of our recruitment needs can be filled locally. Where we have remote camp-based operations, such as our Fort Hills oil sands mining project in Alberta, we recruit both locally and from outside of Alberta. Employees and contractors travel to and from these work sites from our Calgary, Edmonton or Fort McMurray transportation hubs, either by bus or plane. For all of our operations, we look for qualified candidates within Canada first and then may look internationally to create the robust workforce we need.

Our multi-pronged approach is the best way to meet our skilled and technical workforce demands.

Building awareness of career opportunities for trades and operations

Along with our industry partners, we work to build awareness of career opportunities and the important role skilled tradespeople play in our industry and across the Canadian economy.

This includes telling an authentic and compelling employment story in print, traditional, digital and social media. It also means engaging a broader and more diverse workforce to explore career options within the sector.

We accomplish this work through supporting key Suncor Energy Foundation partners that help to build the skills and knowledge needed in the workforce such as:

  • Women Building Futures – an organization based in Edmonton, Alta., which specializes in training women for careers in the heavy industrial workforce, including the skilled trades.
  • CAREERS: The Next Generation – an organization based in Edmonton, Alta., that works throughout the province to introduce youth in high school to rewarding career opportunities and to develop the skilled workers of the future through their apprentice and co-op programs.
  • Indspire Institute - an Indigenous-led registered charity that invests in the education of Indigenous people for the long-term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada. Among other programs, the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF) supports their Apprenticeships, Skilled Trades and Technology scholarship programs.

We also look to inform all Canadians about our industry and showcase the variety of employment opportunities available to them. We partner with groups like Calgary Economic Development and the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation to help tell the Alberta labour story nationally and internationally in an effort to help attract qualified labour to the province.

Our executive team has an important role to play in sharing the industry’s employment story. Through our Speakers Bureau program, executives provide speeches and presentations to a variety of stakeholder groups across North America and beyond.

Encouraging careers in the trades

To help build skills and knowledge needed for careers in trade, we support educational institutions that offer programs that feed our workforce.

  • Through the Suncor Energy Foundation and the company, we have a long-term partnership with Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alta. to help meet industry needs for skilled trades in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Since 1998, we have invested more than $4.4 million to support this partnership. Our contribution primarily supports the college’s mining and process operations programs.
  • Through our campus recruiting program, we visit several schools across Canada each year, talking with students about trades and technical careers in the energy sector.  
  • We also support a number of post-secondary co-op education programs. We are involved with Mohawk College and the Hamilton Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Consortium in Ontario, which provide students with work experience placements at our lubricants business in Mississauga. We also work with organizations like Skills Canada Alberta to educate youth, parents and high school counsellors about opportunities to work in skilled trades, including the Skills in the Classroom Program.

Having information about opportunities in skilled trades is particularly important to youth as they make decisions about future career opportunities.

Once someone has made the decision to pursue a trades career, we support their development. We hire apprentices and support them as they develop essential skills required to become a full-fledged journeyperson. This commitment to career progression is key to building a workforce that supports us in achieving our high safety and reliability standards.

  • One example of our commitment to apprenticeship is our participation in Alberta’s Registered Apprenticeship Program. This program is designed for high school students who know they want to pursue a career in the trades. Participating students have the opportunity to earn school credit for their apprenticeship and divide their time between an approved worksite, like ours, and their high-school studies.
  • In partnership with Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), the Suncor Energy Foundation supports a blended learning program that allows apprentices to learn through online modules while on the jobsite. This saves time for students as they only need to come to campus for the lab and testing phases of their training. It also offers SAIT more training capacity and more options for using its physical space.
  • We partner with Lambton College, in Sarnia, Ont., by supporting its chemical/power engineering training programs that help meet the needs of industry in Eastern Canada. In 2015, the SEF renewed our funding with $300,000 in support to their Centre of Excellence in Energy and Bio-Industrial Technologies, building on previous support of the college’s Suncor Sustainability Centre, which has become a focal point for sustainability initiatives and programs in the Sarnia-Lambton region.

Participating in unconventional solutions

We’re proud to collaborate with other companies in our industry to attract skilled workers. We, along with six other oil sands construction owners, have formed the Association for Construction Worker Acquisition (ACWA) to work with government to address the ongoing demand for skilled construction workers in the Alberta oil sands region. ACWA’s chair is Ron Genereux, vice president, productivity and construction.

Construction industry leaders from across Canada continue to support BuildForce Canada, a national organization to help keep a steady flow of highly skilled workers available to the construction industry.

We are also a member of the Alberta Council of Turnaround Industry Maintenance Stakeholders, which is a not-for-profit organization representing:

  • three major oil sands owners (Shell, Syncrude and Suncor)
  • various industrial maintenance contractors
  • the building trades labour providers

This unique collaboration benefits both the industry and the people qualified to work in the heavy industrial maintenance industry.

The benefit to the prospective tradesperson is that their resumé is shared with and reviewed by many contractors. This gives them the opportunity to work on multiple sites, one after the other. Industry benefits include timely acquisition of skilled and qualified workers for the owners’ turnaround maintenance events.

Lastly, our involvement in the Construction Association of Alberta is an owner/contractor forum where best practices and learnings are shared to enhance the construction industry at all levels.

Unions and agreements

Wherever we do business, we respect the right of eligible employee groups to choose representation by a bargaining agent. Where employee groups have made that choice, we bargain in good faith to reach and renew collective agreements that balance the needs of the business and represented employees with settlements reflecting current economic and business realities.

Our current collective agreements stipulate a three to six month notice to employees of significant operational changes. The collective agreements also include provision for consultation and negotiation. All our collective agreements contain articles on health and safety. Specific requirements for union or employee representation on joint health and safety committees are also included in all collective agreements.

Existing collective agreements

Approximately 4,600 or nearly one-third of our employees are covered by collective agreements and about 90% of our represented employees are members of Unifor – a union representing workers in oil sands, in situ, refining, distribution and Canadian offshore operations. The majority of our represented employees are covered by collective agreements linked to a national template agreement with Unifor. The existing template agreement expires in 2016.

Collective agreements are being negotiated throughout our Upstream and Downstream operations in 2016.