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Fitters, Plumbers, Energy Sector Workers Seeing Wages Rise Faster than in Other Canadian Industries

New numbers from the Conference Board of Canada survey show that salaries are rising in the energy sector at a faster pace than other industries. Compared to workers in the retail and hospitality industries, energy tradesmen and women are seeing their salaries rise faster across the board.

In western Canada, a shortage of skilled laborers (the proper cure for which is difficult to agree on) is pushing pay up:

“It’s basic labor economics: demand and supply. There is a demand for the specialized skill sets and knowledge workers. The demand is not going away,”

This has meant a raise in pay for workers in the industries that are fueling western Canada’s economic boom:

Pipe fitters and plumbers in the oil and gas industry in Western Canada can expect higher salaries this year than retail and hospitality workers, a new study says.

The oil and gas sectors in Saskatchewan and Alberta are expected to have the highest average salary increase at 4.5 per cent, up from 4.2 per cent last fall, the Conference Board of Canada said Tuesday.

Ian Cullwick, the Conference Board’s vice-president of leadership and human resources research, added

“Engineers and project managers as well as electricians and welders are also in demand.

Alberta and Saskatchewan just have a huge demand for those skill sets,”

Cullwick notes that skilled workers are rewarded for their knowledge with longer lasting jobs that lead to higher rates of pay. Workers in other industries are often filling space between work related jobs or are more likely to change jobs. Cullwick explains,

“In hospitality and retail, they have more transient work forces. They’ve got part-timers and contract workers. They’ve got part-time workers that are students as well,” Mr. Cullwick said.
For unskilled and semi-skilled labour, he said, the implications are higher levels of unemployment and lower salary gains.

“You could argue it’s almost two divides,” he said, adding that there’s a “misalignment” for producing specialized skills and trades versus general university programs that are “educating” but not necessarily developing skill sets.


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