A Bleak Forecast for Canada’s 600,000 Energy Industry Workers

The question now, of course, is how to offset the loss of those oil and gas jobs.

A shift to low carbon or carbon free energy sources may help, although Ms. Caranci said the number of jobs they are likely to create is difficult to predict. They also have another problem: It’s not likely that many of them will be in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, the three provinces with the most oil and gas jobs. Plants making batteries for electric cars are likely to be built — if they’re built in Canada — near auto plants in southern Ontario rather than in northern Alberta.

The more than 450,000 jobs that are expected to disappear won’t go away immediately, so there’s still time for planning. Canada’s experience with retraining those who lost factory jobs can give the country an example to avoid, Ms. Caranci said. Those retraining programs largely failed to prepare people for new work or help employers looking for people with new skills.

In the report, Ms. Caranci suggests that Canada replace what she describes as a “patchwork” of retraining programs and income support programs with something more like the system Singapore uses. It works with employers to first identify specific jobs and specific skills they are looking for in workers, then sets up training programs to build skills for those jobs.

“I think what happens is that for governments, the path of least resistance is to throw money at the problem: Here’s money to retrain, here’s money to help for a year,” she said. “We’ve got to throw out what we were doing before and just start over cleanly, thoughtfully with these workers in mind and not try to have programs for every worker in the economy — just the ones who are most impacted.”

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