After missing 2016, the Oil Sands Trade Show and Conference is back in Fort McMurray.
Over 290 companies are on display at the show which is designed to specifically seek innovation in Alberta’s oil sands sector.
According to Director for the Trade Show Wes Scott, since the economic downturn of oil, the industry is really in a state of maintenance.
He tells Mix News this year they’re promoting the latest technologies as well as environmental strategies in the industry.
“We have a digital oil sands, that’s new and it focuses a lot on automation. Everything from acid tracking, to drone technology. Really, the show covers everything down the whole supply chain.”
This year’s focus is promoting new technologies and environmental strategies while finding ways to reduce costs and maximize the lifespan of equipment and facilities.
Oil has taken big decline over the past couple of years, but it’s showing signs of recovery.
As of Tuesday, the price of Crude Oil was listed at $48.37 per barrel.
Scott says although oil is in recovery, it will likely be in maintenance for the foreseeable future.
“There have to be ways to produce oil sands. I think as those costs go down, it makes sense to expand again but it really is about the economics of increased price per barrel and lower costs and once we have that in check, then the industry grows again.”
WBF focuses on encouraging women to get into the trades as they feel women are often underrepresented in many of these industries.
Director of Stakeholder Relations Jacqui Anderson says there are great benefits to the economic trajectory for women in these careers.
“We work with the women to make sure they’re aware of the career opportunities,” Anderson said. “Often times, we find women don’t even think of these careers, it’s just not in their wheelhouse. So, we give them the education, the tools to learn about it, and we help them overcome any barriers they might have.”
According to Anderson, women make up 50.7 per cent of the workforce but are only 4-6 per cent of the construction workforce.
Their latest program as a Heavy Equipment Technician aims to change that and will allow women to work with WBF industry partners in a four-year apprenticeship.
Anderson says the apprenticeships could lead to future employment with any of those partners, which includes CEDA, Diversified Transportation, Finning Canada, Mammoet, Suncor and United Rentals.
“You’re changing not just the woman, you’re changing the community, her children and all it takes is to have one strong positive role model to have that change and have that choice to have a massive impact. Our programs raise women’s income by 132% on average and we have a 93% employment rate.”
WBF’s Heavy Equipment Technician Program starts in November and the deadline to apply is on September 28.
If you’re a woman, considering a trade opportunity, Anderson suggests you stop by the WBF booth to discuss what options are in front of you.
The conference continues Wednesday at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.