The province's oil and gas industry has shed thousands of jobs already this year in the wake of an oil price plunge that began last summer.
A few thousand job seekers flocked to Calgary's convention centre this week for an industry job fair, despite common perception they are most likely on an ill-fated journey.
"I think it will take long time because companies, they have some opportunities, but there are lots of people in front of them to select," says Khalid Fattah, a civil engineer with more than 20 years of experience.
The two-day job fair began Wednesday and nearly 2,000 people registered to attend, the maximum amount allowed by organizers. Long lines form outside every booth as people wait for a chance to drop off a resume and have a quick chat about possible openings.
"We don't have a lot of openings, especially in Calgary and Alberta," says Bright Eboigbe, an engineer who has been out of work for about a month. "It's a little bit tight."
Companies looking to hire at the Global Energy Career Expo include Shell and Baker Hughes. Shell Canada laid off a few hundred oilsands workers in January and has been shedding head office staff, as well. Also in January, Baker Hughes announced it was cutting 7,000 jobs worldwide.
"There's a lot of people with great qualifications, great skills and experience," says Taylor Cook, a recruiter with AECON, an energy, construction and mining company. While her company is hiring in each of its business sectors across the country, she can't help but notice the concern about the job climate in Alberta.
"I've heard some people say they are a little scared right now about what's going on with the economy, particularly in Alberta," she says.
Looking for quality
Employment in Alberta this year has been flat, although the energy sector has lost 25,000 jobs since September, a drop of 13.5 per cent, according to Robert Kavcic, with BMO Capital Markets.
The job fair is much smaller than last year, only a quarter of the size. The firms who are hiring have the luxury of looking for high quality applicants.
"There's a number of companies that are looking for individuals that might not have been available last year that have become available for this year," says Bruce Carew with the Global Petroleum Show.
Of the jobs that are available, some are based in Canada, while others are overseas.