Oil and gas industry expresses cautious optimism about prospects in 2017

THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY is feeling better about its prospects than it did a year ago.

That’s what the Hays Canada Salary Guide found when it quizzed oil and gas industry employers and employees for its seventh annual salary guide. The global recruitment firm says only 17 per cent of employers in the sector experienced growth in 2016 and 65 per cent made cuts to staff. Another 28 per cent believe the sector will continue to struggle in 2017. However, 41 per cent of oil and gas employers expect business activity to increase this year. “The general feeling is the bottom has been reached,” says Jim Fearon, Hays Canada’s oil and gas market expert. “The optimism is based on the expectation that oil prices are going to improve somewhat.”

That expectation might not pan out, but at least the industry doesn’t think 2017 will be as big of a dud as 2016. Fearon says that is born out in this year’s survey results compared to last year. In 2016 Fearon says 72 per cent of oil and gas employers experienced a decrease in business activity. But only 19 per cent expect a decrease in 2017. When it comes to staff employment, 65 per cent of these employers reported they reduced staff in 2016. Only 27 per cent are expecting to reduce their staff head counts in 2017.

Fearon does warn Canadians working in the oil and gas industry that even though employers are more optimistic about their prospects than they were in 2016, this won’t result in an increase in wages or a surge in hiring. “The increase in business is not translating into hiring plans,” Fearon says. “That’s because employers have already done their workforce reductions and streamlining activities. They have the people they need to handle any upswing in activity.”

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