January 11, 2016 9:59 pm
Updated: January 12, 2016 2:22 pm

New set of job skills in demand during Alberta’s economic downturn

WATCH ABOVE: There's a big shift in Alberta's job market. A totally different set of skills are now in demand. Mass layoffs have pushed Alberta's unemployment rate to the highest level in more than five years. Headhunters say there are still jobs. As Sarah Offin explains, they’re just not necessarily in the same industries.

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CALGARY – There’s a big shift underway in Alberta’s job market. A totally different set of skills are now sought-after assets for job-seekers.

Cam Khen, a father of four, returned to school at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology last year.

“We were doing geophysical exploration work, but we don’t have any projects right now,” Khen said.

He signed up for petroleum engineering courses, but quickly switched programs when oil prices plunged.

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“There’s no jobs in the oil industry, so I switched to construction.”

Mass layoffs have pushed Alberta’s unemployment rate to the highest level in more than five years.

READ MORE: Alberta men have higher unemployment than Canadian average for the first time since 1989 

Headhunters suggest there are still jobs, just not necessarily in the same industries.

Construction and manufacturing are still in high demand according to Chris Massie, operations manager at About Staffing.

Rising unemployment has also given his business plenty of work.

“We’ve been getting about 25 per cent more applicants than we usually do,” Massie said.

It’s also good news for companies like DIRTT Environmental Solutions. They’ve actually been growing their headcount during Alberta’s recession.

“We’re able to capitalize at a time when the labour pool is deep and rich with very skilled people,” Tracy Baker, COO of DIRTT Environmental Solutions, said.

DIRTT builds pre-fabricated interior spaces using innovative software. “It’s the software that really differentiates us,” Baker said.

Headhunters say that’s a clue for anyone searching for a new career path or considering upgrading.

“Anything related to technology is definitely the direction to go in. Something like coding, or programming, or development, or even sales within a technology area – that’s going to be a growth market in the long term,” Massie said.

While the application process to post-secondary schools like the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University have only begun, SAIT is already seeing a 3.3 per cent increase in applications for next fall.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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