Edmonton… Alberta Learning is working with The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) to assess the viability of creating a new oil and gas well driller trade.

“Alberta’s apprenticeship and industry training system works with employers to help them build the workforce they need,” said Minister of Learning, Dr. Lyle Oberg. “The CAODC has expressed a desire to meet the training needs of its industry through apprenticeship and the creation of a new trade. We will be consulting with industry to take a close look at this possibility.”

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, which represents employers in this sector in Alberta, is hopeful that the designation of oil and gas well driller as a trade will bring more consistent standards, better quality training, and improved workplace safety and productivity to its’ growing and rapidly changing industry.

“The days when all you needed to start a career as a driller were a pair of steel-toed boots and a strong work ethic are over,” said CAODC President Don Herring. “Today, drillers need to be part technologist, part scientist, part manager and part mechanic. They need high quality training – our members believe that Alberta’s apprenticeship system is the best way to deliver it.”

To be designated as a trade, an occupation must fit with the apprenticeship model. It must, for example, be able to provide apprentices with sufficient guidance and supervision from a certified journeyman. There must also be broad industry support for the new trade. Alberta Learning will be consulting with employers and employees in the oil and gas well drilling industry to assess their support for the trade. The Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board will review the results of the consultations and the CAODC application before making a recommendation on the application.
“This is just the beginning,” said Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board Chair, Cliff Williams. “There are many factors that must be taken into account before we reach any final decisions. That being said, this is an exciting possibility and we’re looking forward to exploring it.”

If the CAODC’s application is successful, oil and gas well driller would become a compulsory certification trade, meaning that all drillers would need to be either certified journeymen or registered apprentices. A grandfathering process would be implemented to accommodate those already working in the field. There are approximately 6500 people in skilled oil and gas drilling occupations.

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