Syncrude reached a new milestone last month when it comes to its workforce.
In May, 10 per cent of the company’s overall permanent employees were indigenous.
Since 2003, Syncrude’s self-declared aboriginal workforce has fluctuated between 8.1 per cent and 9.4 per cent of their overall permanent staff.
Vice President of Production, Mining and Extraction Greg Fuhr tells Mix News indigenous people understand the environment we’re in and bring traditional knowledge.
“Which really helps us when you look at things like reclamation, wildlife management, bird deterrent and back to the attrition rate, these are people who stay, we have probably 20 per cent better attrition rate in aboriginal employees than in general, they’re in our community.”
Fuhr notes the increase is the outcome of a lot of underlying programs.
“Related to education, training, outreach in the community and last year our hiring was actually over 16 per cent aboriginal so that’s keeping the trajectory going in the right direction.”
These employees are finding themselves working throughout Syncrude, from people operating the equipment, to process operators, and even senior managers.
Aboriginal Business Liaison Doug Webb has been working for Syncrude for almost 31 years. He says he worked his way up from being in their core program to being a team leader.
“There is a career or position for Aboriginal people in our company, a chance for them to grow, explore new opportunities and contribute back to their communities. When I go to the communities, they see me as Syncrude but they also see me as an Aboriginal person.”
Fuhr adds they aren’t hiring Aboriginal people for the sake of raising their numbers, they are qualified, great employees.
“The aboriginal candidates are great high-quality candidates and that’s why we’re hiring them,” added Fuhr. “The fact they live in the region is a definite plus but these candidates are being hired because they are the best employees, they stay, they know the community.”
He notes down the road they expect to hire more indigenous workers.