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As oil prices stabilize, business and industry continue to prepare for the long-term need to fill trades and operations roles in the construction and oil and gas sectors, including when baby boomers retire from the workforce. We have developed a proactive approach to managing these 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, we recruit both locally and from outside of Alberta. Employees and contractors travel to and from these work sites from various cities.
Our multi-pronged approach is the best way to meet our 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 tradespeople and operators 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 (SEF) partners that help to build the skills and knowledge needed in the workforce such as:
- Women Building Futures: an organization based in Edmonton, Alberta, which specializes in training women for careers in the heavy industrial workforce, including heavy equipment operators.
- CAREERS: The Next Generation: an organization based in Edmonton, Alberta, 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 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 also plays an important role 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 and operations
To help build skills and knowledge needed for careers in trades and operations, we support educational institutions that offer programs that feed our workforce.
- Through the SEF and the company, we have a long-term partnership with Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alberta. to help meet industry needs for skilled trades in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Since 1998, we have invested more than $4.7 million to support this partnership. Our contribution primarily supports the college’s mining and operations programs.
- Through our talent recruiting program, we visit schools across Canada each year, talking with students about trades, operations and technical careers in the energy sector.
- We also work with organizations like Skills Canada Alberta to educate youth, parents and high school counsellors about opportunities to work in trades, including the Skills in the Classroom Program.
Having information about opportunities in trades and operations is particularly important to youth as they make decisions about future career opportunities.
Once someone has made the decision to pursue a career in trades or operations, 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.
- We participate 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 work site, like ours, and their high-school studies. In 2016, the Alberta Apprentice and Industry Training Board (AIT) named Suncor as the 2016 Employer of the Year for Alberta’s north region, recognizing Suncor’s support for and participation in the province’s apprenticeship and industry training programs.
- In partnership with Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), the SEF supports a blended learning program that allows apprentices to learn through online modules while on the job site. 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, Ontario, by supporting its chemical/power engineering training programs that help meet the needs of industry in Eastern Canada. The SEF has provided funding to support 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 collaborative solutions
We’re proud to collaborate with other companies in our industry to attract qualified people. We, along with five 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 at Suncor.
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 prospective tradespeople and operators is that their résumé 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, we’re involved in the Construction Association of Alberta, a 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.
Existing collective agreements
Approximately 4,350, or nearly one-third of our employees, are covered by collective agreements and about 90% of our represented employees are members of Unifor, which represents 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 agreement with Unifor. The majority of current collective agreements expire in 2019.