Oil and gas has always been big business in Canada, but lately the demand for skilled workers in the petroleum industry is higher than it’s ever been before.
Part of the reason is that there are only a handful of colleges and universities in Canada that offer programs specifically designed to prepare students to work in the oil and gas industry.
One of those rare schools is Lambton College, located in the southwestern Ontario city of Sarnia, which has been a major hub for the petroleum industry in Canada for more than a century.
“For over 45 years, Lambton College has been preparing students for careers in the oil and gas industry, and is recognized worldwide as a specialized training institution,” says David Simon, Employer Relations Consultant at the college’s myCareer Centre.
Some of these specific careers include Alternative Energy Engineering, Chemical Production and Process Engineering, Power Engineering, Instrumentation and Control Engineering, Carpentry and Construction, and Welding. The college offers both undergraduate programs and accelerated programs for graduates who have already completed a degree.
Each year, they put the spotlight on these programs for prospective students at Lambton College’s Technology @ Open House. There you can learn about each program and the career opportunities they offer from college staff, faculty, and even oil and gas industry representatives.
The next Technology @ Open House will be on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Visit www.lambtoncollege.ca to pre-register.
Oil and gas-related programs at Lambton College
Before you go to the Technology @ Open House, you should probably do some research on Lambton’s programs so you know which ones you’re most interested in learning about. Here are just a few examples of the programs offered through Lambton College’s School of Technology, Energy and Apprenticeship:
Power Engineering Technician – Chemical
Power Engineering students at Lambton College are taught the highly in-demand skills and theory required to work at oil refineries, gas plants, chemical plants and a number of other common industrial facilities. This two-year college diploma program offers the opportunity to participate in a co-op work term, and also provides the background to take the exams for inter-provincial certification as a Fourth Class Power Engineer. From there, you can work anywhere in Canada’s petroleum industry while you continue to build your credentials.
The oil and gas industry relies on an intricate network of piping systems to carry steam, water, oil, gas and other products to and from its operations. Steamfitters make, put together, maintain and repair these systems to ensure everything flows smoothly. This apprenticeship program provides the work hours and classroom training required for the provincial exam which, upon completion, provides you with journeyperson status and an Inter-Provincial Trade Certificate (Red Seal).
Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology – Accelerated
The Accelerated Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology program offers the opportunity for university graduates with Engineering Technology, Engineering, Physics or Chemistry degrees to earn an advanced technical diploma in instrumentation within a shorter time frame than the regular program, providing skills and hands-on experiences that are essential to start a career in the oil and gas industry.
Preparing students for careers in oil and gas
Lambton College’s tech programs offer opportunities that are comparable to what you’d experience if you were to work directly in the field. David says there are small class sizes, so you won’t get lost in the crowd, and the college’s state-of-the-art labs provide essential hands-on learning experiences. You don’t learn by reading – you learn by doing.
Many of the labs, equipment and co-ops are actually provided or supported by oil and gas employers, and the school regularly asks industry experts for their input to ensure graduates are meeting employers’ needs.
In fact, in the area of new employer partnership development, the myCareer Team at Lambton College encourages any new employers to connect with them by visiting the Employer page on the college’s website.
It must be working, because Lambton College has been recognized as the number one college in Ontario for employer satisfaction. “Lambton College is known as a college of choice for employers,” says David. “A total of 97.5% of employers were ‘very satisfied or satisfied’ with Lambton College graduates, putting Lambton College in first place province-wide in the category of employer satisfaction for the second consecutive year.”
This kind of satisfaction rate means employers can count on Lambton College grads to have the skills and experience they need for entry level oil and gas jobs – and you can count on landing a job straight out of school.
According to the college’s 2011 Graduate Report, about 90% of Technology, Energy and Apprenticeship grads were working within a year of graduating. Chemical Production and Power Engineering Technology grads topped the list of average salaries, earning anywhere from $44,000 to $90,000 per year after just one year.
The best part is you don’t have to go it alone: David and his team at the myCareer Centre also offer students a number of services to ensure that Lambton College students have the best chance of getting hired, including opportunities to network with employers, participate in on-campus job interviews, submit co-op applications to employers, and prepare for work terms.