Canada economic crisis due to the sharp decline in oil prices is continuing. It starts from fall 2014 and is expected to continue to 2016. Among all the provinces, Alberta is considered to be the most highly affected province by such drop. The symptoms of slowing economy in Alberta are many. The news of laid off engineers were quite common during the course of 2015. Most of such layoffs were in the oil and gas sector. Industrial sector which relies heavily on oil and gas industry is not developing any more except for the major project of Fort Hills which is expected to be finished next year. Accordingly, the auxiliary industries to the oil and gas were also affected. The drop in house sales is also another obvious indication of such slow economy. It is safe to say that the industrial sector is currently depends on the maintenance services which keep some engineering activities to be alive.
Despite the bad news that are still arising from the oil and gas sectors, other sectors such as residential, commercial, institutional and municipal are still ongoing. There are many reasons that could lead to such outcome. One common reason is the abundance of construction contractors with competitive prices to keep the province developing and expanding.
Based on the above, what is the prospect of the engineering profession in Alberta in 2016? Should we all feel panic, how the engineers could face such challenges and what kinds of opportunities are available for them?
Employed engineers are currently facing three scenarios. The first one is that they are stable in their job and their companies have plenty of projects. The second is the group who are uncertain about their jobs. There are no bids or projects in the horizon. This group of engineers are waiting to be laid off on a weekly basis. Do you think this is a good environment when the engineers are in the fear of job loss mode? Finally, the third scenario is the engineers who have been laid off already.
Business owners are facing different types of challenges. Slow economy is not a suitable for big projects. Downscaling of the projects is mandatory for keeping the business going. Keeping the clients is of high importance.
In this kind of economy, engineers with limited scope won’t survive especially those in the oil and gas industry. It is important for engineers in this economy to diversify their portfolio i.e. to add more skills or services. This could happen by re-exploring of their talents and engineering skills. This includes making a check list of what they accomplished through out their careers. Furthermore, they need to try to extend their scope of services to cover other activities e.g. commercial, institutional.
For entrepreneurs engineers, it is recommended that they persistently expand their networks by always knowing new connections in the consulting and contracting sides. Add training courses in their scope of services. Explore consulting opportunities internationally. The most important thing is to “never give up”. Always try your best and with a great acceptance.
Photo Caption from Calgary Herald
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