Generational Guru, Recruiter Discuss Energy's Diverse Workforce

Ready or not, the energy industry workforce is entering a period of considerable change, and managers will have to find the right approach and tone to successfully deal with a much younger workforce, while not disenfranchising more senior workers, according to motivational speaker Karen McCullough at a recent Upstart 360 conference, and Tim Cook, the recruiting manager for PathFinder Staffing.

This change in demographics within the industry is being driven by the large number of energy sector workers who are nearing the age of retirement. This is the “Great Crew Change” that is frequently mentioned by hiring officials in the industry. While all industries have their share of retiring workers, the percentage of senior workers in the energy is disproportionately large, Cook said.

“There are a lot of people in oil and gas who have 30 or more years of experience. The industry also has a much smaller, but growing, number of people with up to seven or so years of experience. What it doesn’t have are a lot of people with between 10 and 30 years of experience, and that’s the demographic they’re chasing,” Cook told Rigzone.

There is a reason why people with 10 to 30 years of experience are relatively scarce in the industry, McCullough told Rigzone.

“The oil and gas industry has always been a cyclical industry, and it was going through a bust period beginning in the mid-1980s. Many students in the 1980s and early 1990s who might have considered a career in energy saw what was happening and chose to go into the information technology industry instead,” she said.

“Right now, we get multiple calls from people about oil and gas jobs – the Texas Miracle. They want to get into the industry, and there’s plenty of work. The problem for some people is that if they’re not already in the energy industry, they would possibly have to start off at close to an entry-level salary, which wouldn’t be enough for many middle-aged workers,” Cook said, adding that there were still many who “have a hunger to transition into the oil and gas industry.”

A result of the energy sector’s senior-heavy workforce is that as the older oil and gas workers retire, they take with them much of the industry’s institutional knowledge and experience, and there are comparatively few workers behind them who are ready to step up and fill the void. That means that it is critical for energy companies to develop a pipeline of qualified people who can be ready to move in and come up to speed quickly.


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