02/02/2013 15:53 EST | Updated 04/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Canadian Forces can't compete with oilsands salaries

The Canadian Forces is finding it difficult to attract new recruits in Alberta, where a thriving energy sector is competing for the same demographic of skilled young people.

Canadian Forces Capt. Isabelle Jean said military pay doesn't match the range of pay available to oil and gas workers.

"The people that are going into the oilfield, we are competing with them on a salary basis, basically, so we can't compete with that," Jean said.

Last year, the Edmonton detachment recruited 254 regular force personnel from across Alberta, Saskatchewan and the North. Of those who sign up, fewer than 50 per cent are accepted.

Jean says the pitch to young people is increasingly one that highlights career flexibility.

"They can come in, get the skills. And [if] they realize that the military is not made for them then they can go back in the civilian industry and still have those skills," she said.

On Friday, a small crowd gathered at Edmonton Canada Place Service Canada Centre to witness the swearing in of new recruits — just two of them.

Andrei Suba, 22, said it was initially a tough choice to leave his home and his friends, but now he says he's glad to be joining the exclusive group that serves this country.

"I'm definitely ready. I'm so excited to start. I've been waiting a long time for this," he said.

Suba's father served in Romania's air force before coming to Canada, and the family tradition is part of what swayed him away from heading north to the oilsands for quick cash.

"It's money, at the end of the day but also at the end of the day, it's serving your country and there's no better feeling," Suba said.

The two newest members of Canada's military ship out Saturday.