Natural Resources Industry Falling Behind in Attracting Next Generation of Canadian Talent, According to BDO Canada Report

  • Gen Z turning away from careers in natural resources adds pressure to the evolving industry

Natural resources companies are finding it increasingly difficult to attract a new generation into the workforce and need to do more to align their recruitment strategies with Gen Z’s expectations and aspirations, according to new research by accounting and business advisory organization, BDO. The first-ever report highlights why Gen Z is skeptical about a career in the industry and provides learnings from natural resources companies that have been most successful in navigating the challenging recruitment market.

The global survey captures 757 perspectives on the natural resources sector from industry leaders, high school students and university students in five major markets, including 176 respondents from Canada. Gen Z is increasingly holding employers to high ethical standards, favouring factors such as work-life balance, diversity in the workplace, and positive social and environmental impact in their career decision-making.

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“The survey results show that there is both challenge and opportunity ahead for the attraction and retention of young talent within natural resources in Canada,” says Stephen Payne, Advisory Partner, Energy & Natural Resources Leader at BDO Canada. “To bridge the talent gap, natural resources organizations will need to not only align more closely with ESG and sustainability objectives but also develop an achievable roadmap that extends beyond compliance.”

According to the research, nearly half (42%) of natural resources organizations globally say they find it difficult to attract and retain early-career professionals. It also shows Gen Z are turning away from careers in traditional natural resources sectors including oil & gas and mining. Only one in five (21%) Canadian students are considering a career in the industry, with a large majority stating they are not interested in mining (74%) or oil & gas (68%).

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The report states that Canadian companies are currently underestimating the importance of purpose to Gen Z and need to realign to avoid falling behind other industries in attracting the next generation of talent. Key highlights from the Canadian findings include:

  • The social purpose gap – Two thirds (67%) of Gen Z identify social purpose as essential or important when assessing their career options, and 50% said being part of an industry that positively impacts climate change was highly important to them. Comparatively, less than half (46%) of Canadian natural resources companies thought it would be an essential component for Gen Z.
  • Net zero carbon goal is a primary motivator – Only 18% of natural resources companies recognize that achieving net zero emissions targets by 2050 is important. However, data shows that this goal is a key motivator for students considering opportunities in the renewables sector. This suggests there are opportunities to align employer brand messaging more closely with the race to net zero.
  • Diversity and inclusion have yet to hit the mark – Canadian natural resources companies are behind their global counterparts in terms of prioritizing diversity and inclusion. Just 36% of natural resource companies in Canada have programs in place to attract a diverse workforce, compared to 55% globally. A shift in priorities is necessary for organizations to remain competitive in the search to attract new, diverse talent.
  • A technology-led green revolution – Industry reputation and environmental concerns were found to be major blocker for the students surveyed when considering a career in the industry. The research suggests that students do not recognize the positive impact part of the industry can have in supporting the transition towards net zero, as well as,the role that technology and innovation play in the green energy transition and the career opportunities this presents for them. Only 43% Gen Z in Canada believe that technology, data analytics, AI, and IoT will play a very prominent role in the future of the natural resources industry.

“Technology can be leveraged to support this journey to turn Gen Z skeptics into real changemakers,” says Payne. “Organizations that embrace technology to enable them to articulate the meaning behind KPIs find themselves in a better position to tackle ESG challenges and obtain buy-in from stakeholders, including future talent.”

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