The Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada expects the oil sands will require nearly 100,000 workers to meet growing industry demands from new projects and expansions in the next decade.
In its Labour Demand Outlook report, the PHRC estimates 98,380 skilled workers will be needed to fill oil sands construction, maintenance and operation jobs by 2023.
"Accurate labour market information gives us a clear understanding of the workforce issues affecting oil sands development," said Kyle Fawcett, Alberta's minister of jobs, skills, training & labour.
The report looked at occupational demand within oil sands service companies' requirements, and highlighted workforce challenges facing the industry.
"Alberta, already facing a tight labour market with an unemployment rate of 4.9%, is increasingly competing for key trades and occupations as other resources, infrastructure and engineering projects across the country get underway," it said.
Construction skills in the highest demand include boilermakers, carpenters, electricians, and labourers.
The report said the oil sands sector will generate about 72,810 direct construction and operations jobs in 2014, of which 42,260 include new and sustaining construction, maintenance and operations.
The remaining 26,550 jobs are direct oil sands operations jobs supporting in situ, mining and upgrading production. In this regard, the highest skilled labour demand is for power engineers, heavy equipment operators, and petroleum engineers.
On top of all this, an additional 10,000 new jobs will be created for in-situ operations.
Driving the spike in labour demand is attrition, or retiring workers. It is estimated 37,500 construction skilled workers and 6400 oil sands operations workers will retire in Alberta over the next decade.
"To enhance the supply of skilled workers, oil sands employers will continue recruiting workers from across Canada and abroad, improve productivity through advances in procurement and training and use of fabrication facilities and module assembly yards, and by providing career and development and succession planning programmes that shorten learning curves," said PHRC executive director Carla Campbell-Ott.
Competition for skilled labour across Canada is on the rise as projects offshore Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia ramp up, along with potential liquefied natural gas activity in British Columbia, and growing light-oil production in Saskatchewan's Bakken play.