How The Next Generation Will Change the Face of Oil, Gas

How Gen Y Will Change the Face of Oil, Gas
This article explores how the next generation of oil and gas employees will change the face of the industry.

This opinion piece presents the opinions of the author.
It does not necessarily reflect the views of Rigzone.

During the downturn of the 1980s and 1990s, the oil and gas industry suffered from a drastically low influx of talent. As a result, the sector is now left with two dominant age demographics: Baby Boomers and Gen Y, also known as millennials. As many Boomers prepare to retire, the industry is set to retain a workforce that so far lacks the experience and skill set to lead large-scale initiatives on their own. This experience gap poses a threat to the industry and its competitive edge in an ever changing, and often volatile, global marketplace.

To overcome this experience gap, oil and gas companies must ramp up their efforts in recruitment, training and retention. Additionally, they must begin to understand the values and goals of Gen Y along with what makes them unique and highly instrumental additions to the sector. 

Understanding Gen Y in the Workplace

  • By next year, Gen Y will account for 36% of the U.S. workforce and by 2025, they will account for 75% of the global workplace. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • On track to become the most educated generation in American history (Pew Research)
  • 61% of Gen Yers are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference (Huffington Post)
  • 84% say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition. (Bentley University’s Center for Women & Business)
  • Gen Y states that they do not deserve special treatment and are equally as committed as non-millennials. (PwC)
  • 92% believe that business success should be measured by more than profit (Deloitte)
  • Gen Y employees believe they have about the same level of organization commitment as Boomers and Gen Xers. (Strategy+Business)
  • 29% of Gen Y workers think work meetings to decide on a course of action are very efficient, compared to 45% of Boomers (Iconoculture 2011)
  • 80% of Gen Y says that they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews and feel that this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job (Achievers and Experience, Inc.)
  • It costs an average of $24,000 to replace each Gen Y employee (Millennial Branding &
  • 15% of Gen Y are already managers (Millennial Branding &
  • 69% of Gen Y believes that office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis and prefer flexible work environments (Cisco)

Attracting Gen Y to the Oil & Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry is a heavily tech-focused industry, and it should be touted as such as this resonates highly to this demographic. The industry must also begin promoting itself as the future of America’s energy solutions along with being financially stable and environmentally conscious. It is important to note that Gen Yers are not content to simply fill a role at an organization, they are adamant about making a difference through both their career choices and the organization to which they choose to devote their time.

Training & Knowledge Sharing

In order to get this generation up to speed before their Boomer counterparts retire, oil and gas companies must be diligent about implementing training workshops and programs. Smart oil and gas companies will create knowledge sharing initiatives that include input and direction from senior and experienced employees. Gen Yers will respond well to these initiatives, as the demographic is notoriously more concerned with advancement, additional responsibilities and leadership roles than with the monetary compensation that may go along with career advancement. This generation is ambitious, tech-savvy and committed. According to a recent Deloitte survey, Gen Yers within the oil and gas sector plan to stay with their organizations for more than five years, much higher than Gen Yers in most all other sectors.

Gen Y Retention & Values

In order for Gen Y to be productive and content in a workplace environment, they need to feel that they are a part of a work culture that understands their values and goals. Gen Y workers expect to work in a tech-savvy, paperless environment that is collaborative rather competitive. They desire a flexible work schedule with remote options and work-life integration. It is vital that oil and gas companies begin to engage and tailor their workplaces to attract and retain this generation in order to unlock their potential, which will bring forth ideas for innovation, sustainability and social consciousness. The future of the industry's ability to compete on a global scale depends on it.

Richard Slack, President and Chief Executive Officer, of Oildex Inc., a service of Transzap, is responsible for the strategic direction, operations and growth of the company.


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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
Nigel Mackenzie | May. 11, 2015
The baby boomers and generation X both grew up in different times when vocational training and day release technical college was the root to work experience, knowledge and skills. With this type of hands on vocational training experience and confidence grew as time passed. Generation Y will need to start to retrain now in vocational skills if they want to take over confidently and safely from the previous generations who all fixed their own cars, bikes etc and worked their way up from the shop floor tools to be technicians engineers and managers. I fear that plant integrity and process safety really are at risk here in the coming years as Generation Y will struggle to get up to speed in the work place. If companies dont start training them for work not just qualifications we are in serious trouble. The Oil & Gas industry is slow to change and I dont think we will see any flexibility to fit in with generation Y any time soon.

David | May. 11, 2015
As a Gen Y myself, I read this and see a lot of parallels. While I disagree on a few points of the needs of the Gen Y, its certainly enough to help get pointed in the right direction. One large difference is that as a Gen Y, I still want to get paid - and paid well - to change the world. Working in the ONG industry for a little over seven years and being in mid/upper level management, Id say good luck with a hint of sarcasm. Some people in the industry get it... but most of the senior managers and executives, those baby boomers esteemed in tradition and full of things they know for a fact from 30 years in the industry wont change. I see it every day. Our best home is for the late Baby Boomers to stay a bit longer than they might want and for the early Gen Ys to step up into a leadership role to help push the industry in a direction that is sustainable and one that fosters advancement and growth.


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