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Turning sceptics into changemakers:

Attracting Gen Z to the natural resources sector in Canada


The continual rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, including decarbonization, is disrupting the natural resources sector. Countries around the world have committed to limit global warming to 1.5°and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To reach these goals, all areas of society will face significant transformation, affecting every part of the economy.

In addition, the natural resources industry is facing recruitment and talent pipeline challenges. With the "Great Resignation" trend, we're seeing employees leaving their jobs for opportunities that better meet their needs and expectations—including roles with more flexibility, work-life-balance, and that better align with their values.

The sector has an opportunity to lead the transition towards a net-zero carbon economy. However, shifting attitudes, particularly with younger generations, is undermining the industry's ability to succeed in a rapidly changing world. In response, BDO Global commissioned research across five major markets for natural resources—including Canada—to understand why Generation Z (Gen Z) is sceptical about a career in the industry, and to learn from the natural resources companies that have been most successful in navigating the challenging recruitment market. Download the full report: Bridging the Gap with Gen Z – Turning Sceptics into Changemakers, here.

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z can be categorized as individuals born in the late 1990s or the first decade of the 21st century. According to BDOs research, Gen Z hold employers to high ethical standards, favouring factors such as work-life balance, diversity in the workplace, and positive social and environmental impact in their career decision-making.

Canadian companies underestimate the importance of purpose to Gen Z

The Canadian and global research highlights a gap between the career attributes perceived as most important to Gen Z and what natural resources companies believe are most important to this generation.

See below the key highlights from our Canadian research:

The social purpose gap

46% of the Canadian natural resources companies highlighted social purpose as important or essential to Gen Z when assessing their career options.

However, 67% of Gen Z respondents in Canada identify social purpose as either important or essential.

Natural Resources falling behind other industries in competition for talent

The net zero carbon goal is highly motivating for Gen Z

A technology-led green revolution

Corporates need to do more on diversity and inclusion

BDOs natural resources research in Canada spans 28 corporate respondents and 148 Gen Z (school and university) respondents. 

How can the natural resources sector attract Gen Z talent?

Climate change is one of the most important issues facing the natural resources sector. At a time when younger generations are looking for more from their employers, how can the industry attract and retain talent to help meet the challenges ahead?

“In order to bridge the talent gap, natural resources organizations will need to not only align more closely with ESG and sustainable objectives, but develop an achievable roadmap that extends beyond compliance,” said Stephen Payne, Advisory Partner, Energy and Natural Resources Leader at BDO Canada.

“Organizations that embrace technology to enable them to articulate the meaning behind KPIs find themselves in a better position to tackle ESG challenges and obtain buy-in from stakeholders, including future talent,” he added.

To attract Gen Z workers, the natural resources industry must dispel the misconceptions that are turning students away and highlight how Gen Z can help build foundations for more sustainable energy future.

Download the report now

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