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The "Alberta Cycle" and How it Affects Contractors

My responsibility at Eagle is Western Canada focused.  That said, I reside and work out of Calgary which is vying with Toronto to be Eagle’s largest branch.  Sure, we have great people, strong process and excellent service delivery, but, let’s face it, without the unequalled strength of the Alberta economy, we would only be a fraction of our size.

So, what am I saying here?

The whole country is well aware that the price per barrel of oil recently dipped below the $50 mark and the medium term prognosis isn’t encouraging.  Our clients are making the necessary adjustments to this new business reality and the economy (along with our local business) is slowing as a result.  It is times like these that can make one feel like Chicken Little, thinking that the sky is falling; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Sure there will be some period of time where things will be tighter and more uncomfortable, but this gives the economy a chance to take a breath and consider new processes and/or technological innovation.  It is an opportunity for Alberta companies to make a planned renewal, to remake ourselves stronger and better competitors.

In the short term, we expect to see (and are, in fact, already seeing) more contractors and consultants “between gigs” — this will undoubtedly have a negative impact on rates in the local market.  Long term contracts, permanent opportunities and contract extensions are now much more appealing.  My advice to Alberta-based professionals working in times such as these is to put things into perspective by recognizing that this is part of theAlberta Cycleand realize that the tough times will end. Consider this time as an opportunity to invest inyourselfandyourpersonal business by upgrading your knowledge through continued training/education. This way, you too, will emerge stronger and better able to compete.

This TED Talk on global labour challenges should provide encouragement that your skills as a professionalwill be very valuable, whether you live in Alberta or elsewhere in Canada or abroad.  People with the highest level of skills will be in the heaviest demand and for those of us living in Alberta, it would be good to remember this as we prepare for the next “up” cycle.