Working and Learning in Wood Buffalo
Angie Cantreras moved to Fort McMurray from Venezuela in 2007 when her husband found work with Suncor. “Hello and thank you were the only English words I knew,” she says. “I was scared to go to the grocery store and when the phone rang I did not respond.”
She found a unique way to overcome the language barrier. “While I stayed at home with my daughter I watched shows for children. I learned English this way. Now I know all of the cartoons,” she says laughing.
When she was ready to look for work she took two English classes at Keyano College and then went to the YMCA for help looking for a job. She now works for the Health Promotion Centre as a receptionist and bookkeeper.
She has settled into the community and finds the tranquility of Fort McMurray appealing. “I love the peace and quiet, the trails and countryside. It is a good place to raise a family.”
The reason that many people across the country and around the world have heard of Wood Buffalo and Fort McMurray is the many job opportunities created by oil sands mines. Extracting oil from the vast oil sands deposits in the region requires a skilled, educated and experienced work force.
Jobs in the petroleum industry are some of the most sought after positions in the region. Oil sands companies typically hire skilled workers such as engineers and technologists, as well as management and business/administration staff. They also employ certified tradespeople, process operators and heavy equipment operators.
Construction and energy industry contractors often work for oil sands companies doing construction and maintenance work. They also work in areas such as residential or commercial construction. Labourers, building tradespeople, heavy equipment operators and project managers are a few of the workers hired by contractors.
In addition to jobs related to heavy industry, there are many jobs in support industries and all the services required by a region of over 100,000 people.
The region offers many opportunities for different types of work, and local training is available to help newcomers make their skills and training work for them locally.