With oil and gas prices continuing to plummet, many future SAIT graduates believe it’s going to be tougher to find a job in the oil and gas industry.
But that doesn’t mean it will be impossible, some students in the Energy program say.
“I do think it will be more of a challenge,” said Jodi Mowers a second year Chemical Engineering Technology student.
But while the current slowdown in the oil patch may make things more difficult, at least some students think the situation isn’t hopeless.
Oil companies still need to produce oil when prices are low, they just need to do it more cost effectively then before, Mowers believes.
And that means they will continue to fill the positions they have.
“They won’t be creating new positions, they will be looking at positions they don’t need,” she explained.
Second-year Chemical Engineering Technology student Shelby Wells takes comfort in the boom and bust characteristics of the industry.
“It will be tougher for this year, maybe next year too, but it goes in cycles,” Wells said.
Second-year Steamfitter-Pipefitter Apprentice Jared Hannotte understands that “there is no way around it.”
Previous work in one’s field may prove to be helpful to future SAIT graduates trying to get hired in the oil and gas industry.
Mower took an internship this past summer in a lab at Baker Hughes and has made connections there, which will hopefully help her attain a job upon graduating this spring.
“I do think the connections and networking I have done will help but it will still be difficult,” said Mowers of finding employment post graduation.
“It depends on your field experience,” said Hannotte of finding work when done at SAIT.
Although there are many different areas for a chemical engineer to go into, many positions are affected greatly by the price of oil.
Despite the fact that many companies are laying off workers, Wells still hopes to get a job for an oil company in Alberta.
I do think it will be more of a challenge. – Jodi Mowers
“It will be harder but I would like to try it anyway,” Wells said.
“I always thought I would go into oil and gas.”
Because her program “covers so many bases,” she feels she will be able get a job, even if its not in the area she had hoped.
The students’ hopeful attitude is echoed by people in the petroleum industry, and by SAIT’s acting dean of energy, Rand Ayres.
Gord Kyle, the president of Access Pipeline, said students in this field should remember that while the short-term outlook may be gloomy, the oil business is subject to ups and downs.
“I think the oil and gas industry is still going to be a good employer. Going forward the next year or two, students might have to do something else.
“But I would think in the long term, things will come back,” Kyle said.
“Every time this has happened everybody said ‘this is never going to change, it’s going to be bad forever,’ but it comes back. You just have to be patient,” he said.
Ayres acknowledged the recent job cuts by companies like Suncor and Baker Hughes are unsettling, and other firms may follow suit.
“It’s a good example of what oil companies do when the price of oil falls,” he said.
But the old saying that ‘the cure for low oil prices is low oil prices’ also is true.
When consumers, who are now benefiting from cheap gasoline and home heating, start to increase their usage, oil supplies will fall and prices will begin to go up again, the dean agreed.
Press reporters Enrique Palacios and Annie Randhawa contributed to this story.