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Oil Industry Struggling to Recruit Its Next Generation of Workers

Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2020

Securing talent is becoming more challenging and expensive for oil and gas companies amid the coronavirus pandemic and a growing distaste for the oil business among potential young employees.

According to a 2017 study by Earnst & Young, almost 2/3 of 16 to 19-year-olds and 44% of 20 to 35-year-olds said that a career in oil and gas was unappealing, even though O&G professionals are compensated at higher levels than other industries. In fact, according to a 2018 Georgetown University study, petroleum engineering was the top-paid undergraduate major in the United States, with a median wage of $140,000 a year. Younger people joining the workforce are simply opting for more job security in industries with less volatility.

Amid the current downturn and cutbacks, companies should be cautious of repeating the same mistakes made during the oil crash of the 1980s. At that time, many corporations sharply curtailed hiring or stopped it altogether, resulting in a generational hole that haunted them for years.

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