January 16, 2017 8:10 pm
Updated: January 18, 2017 10:40 am

Weyburn, Sask. struggles to fill jobs in the oil industry

WATCH ABOVE: As the oil industry is slowly picking up again, companies in Weyburn, Sask. are facing a new challenge: the struggle to find workers. Jules Knox has more in this report.

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“Now hiring” — the words workers in the oil patch have been waiting to hear are flashing across billboards in Weyburn, Sask.

“We’re struggling finding employees, not even trained employees. We’ll gladly train anyone,” Abby Kradovill, Miller Well Services safety co-ordinator, said.

READ MORE: Oil cuts spur optimism in Canadian oilpatch after 2-year slump

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Companies in Weyburn said they have to share workers, and some competitors are poaching employees from each other.

Some companies have rigs sitting idle because they don’t have enough employees for the work, Jonathan Kmita, Kmita Well Servicing’s owner, said.

“We’ve had to shut down rigs so that a different rig could get fully crewed to go work at a different job,” Kradovill said.

This is the first year her company has had to put out job vacancy ads, she added.

“You’d think there’s people looking for jobs now, but we struggle worse now than [we] ever did at our busiest point looking for people,” Kradovill said.

Wages took a hit when the price of oil dropped about two years ago, but they’re slowly rebounding. As more and more jobs open up, companies are hoping workers take notice and return to Weyburn.

“The oil industry seems to be seeing a revival. We’re seeing a lot more interest down here in different companies coming in who are connected with suppliers to the oil industry,” Weyburn Mayor Marcel Roy said.

“We’re open for business. We’ve got plenty of residential properties for sale, lots of vacancy rates in apartments or condos, so there’s places where they can come back,” Roy said.

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Companies struggling to recruit are finding many workers moved away or changed careers when the slump happened and wages were cut.

People might be reluctant to come back because there’s no security that oil prices will be stable, Roy said.

“When you lose the advantage of the money, you lose the advantage of having outside people. People will go back to what they were doing prior to the oil patch or they’ll settle for a full time job that’s consistently 40 to 50 hours a week instead of the boom and bust of the oil patch,” Kmita said.

The mayor said he is still optimistic about Weyburn’s future.

“Now we’re seeing stuff coming back a bit and we’re basically set and ready to go for the next round, the next upturn in the oil industry,” Roy said. “We’re open for business.”

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