Calgary is an energy hub, but our traditional industry is faced with unprecedented competition and a growing demand to lower our carbon footprint— leaving many young people unable to see a future for themselves in oil and gas alone. While the current price recovery may stop the bleeding, there is no boom on the horizon. We’ve seen young people lose faith in our City.
Calgary is not a story about energy resources under our feet, however, it has always been about the energy of our people who continue to find new solutions and better ways to do business. Our future is in that spirit of innovation and adaptability—we are the people who used technological advancement to unlock the oil sands, to extend the life of our conventional oil resources decades after international experts told us they would be depleted, to let loose untold wealth through directional drilling.
We are again at an inflection point. If we choose not to innovate, adapt, and diversify, we will be left behind. Young people can see this more than the rest of us—they’ve grown up in a carbon constrained world and are showing us the way with their feet—and we must listen to what they are telling us. The University of Calgary, in response to low demand from students, will stop admitting new undergrads into oil and gas engineering.
As Calgarians, we can look to the past and lament the roads not taken due to this world wide shift, or we can look to the future.
I choose to look to the future and see hope. Hope in young people planning for the long-term and equipping themselves with the skills needed to compete and win in the future economy. Our challenge is scale—we need more capacity to equip people and align the skills of Calgarians with the demands of today.
Our technology industry is growing but even today 2,000 positions are unfilled for lack of the right skills. We need people with the knowledge and training to be able to fill those jobs. My initiative to massively scale-up and launch tech skills training programs and retraining downtown will supercharge the growth of Calgary’s technology sector, enabling Calgary companies to grow faster, and attracting outside companies to grow in Calgary.
Our energy industry and our economy are evolving. Oil and gas is not our only valuable resource. We can choose optimism and hope, and harness the energy of our young people to propel our city’s growth across all industries, including information technology. Our technology industry needs the skills, and as a City it is time to grow to meet those needs and secure our future.