Millennials Survey: What they Really Think of the Oil, Gas Industry

Millennials Survey: What they Really Think of the Oil, Gas Industry
Rigzone's exclusive global survey of millennials reveals their values, concerns and what attracts them to the oil and gas industry.

While most of the news surrounding the oil and gas industry this year has involved the price of oil, a fair amount of conversations have included the Great Crew Change and how the new workforce majority – millennials – will fare in an industry led by seasoned professionals. Millennials have already surpassed baby boomers and Generation X in number in the U.S. workforce and they are expected to comprise 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, according to a May 2015 report by Pew Research Center.  

There has been much attention given to millennials recently, but what do we know about this cohort of young workers? Rigzone conducted a global survey of more than 800 millennials – born between 1981 and 1997 – in the oil and gas industry to explore what attracted them to the industry, what type of leadership they prefer and what makes them tick.

The Millennial’s Job Search

The cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry lends itself to occasional ups and downs and with the current industry downturn that began in late 2014, there has been a lot of focus on job search. Oil and gas companies have had to cut back on capital expenditures (CAPEX) and place projects on hold. Recruiters are making efforts to maintain their candidate pipeline as well as exploring new ways to hire millennials. Meanwhile, millennials are especially aggressive in how they are attacking the job search.   

Our survey revealed that industry-specific job boards, such as Rigzone, are the preferred means of job search. More than three-quarters of millennials use industry-specific job boards; 59 percent use generalist websites such as Monster and CareerBuilder; and 52 percent use social media. Thirty-six percent of millennials use career fairs as part of their job search. Additionally, more than half (55 percent) of millennials believe career fairs are effective when looking for jobs.      

More than Money: What’s Important to Millennials

Money isn’t everything. While some may dismiss this as merely a cliché, it is true when it comes to the millennial respondents and what they find important in a job. According to the survey, more than anything, millennials want to be challenged. Twenty-three percent said having challenging projects and tasks was the most important factor when considering an employer, followed by opportunities for advancement (21 percent), and then money (20 percent).

When it comes to their leadership, almost half of millennials (45 percent) prefer a manager who is trustworthy and honest. One quarter of respondents said they value leaders who have experience and industry knowledge and 16 percent want to be mentored and coached by their manager. Millennials desire an honest and experienced leader who will train and help them become better workers. 

The preferred work environment for the overwhelming majority (72 percent) of these twenty- and thirty-something respondents is a mixture of a traditional office environment plus some remote work.

A 2014 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that millennials consider international experience vital to a successful career. According to the report, 71 percent of millennials want to work abroad at some point in their career.

Oil and gas is a global industry and while Rigzone’s survey found that global travel opportunities ranked lowest among millennials in terms of importance, almost half of millennials surveyed (48 percent) expressed that the opportunity to work globally was the most attractive thing about the industry. This reveals that though working globally is attractive to millennials, the opportunity to travel globally isn’t a determining factor in choosing an employer.

What Value Do Millennials Bring to the Industry?

The millennial worker communicates differently, values different things and expects different things from their employer. While some are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to enter the industry, many millennials are already working in oil and gas and experiencing some of the industry’s challenges firsthand.

According to our survey, 70 percent of millennials think the price of oil is the top challenge for the oil and gas industry today, and they’re probably right. Tumbling crude oil prices in late 2014 sent the industry into a global tailspin and became the catalyst for layoffs, bankruptcies and restructuring efforts. Additionally, 49 percent of millennials find safety to be a top challenge in the industry followed by the global shortage of skilled workers (40 percent) and a lack of diversity in the industry (39 percent).

But millennials are confident they can help address the challenges plaguing the oil and gas industry. In fact, 42 percent of millennials believe problem-solving is the biggest asset they bring to the industry, third to only technical/digital knowledge (54 percent) and innovation (60 percent).  



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Valerie is an experienced writer and editor dedicated to providing useful and relevant career news about the oil and gas industry. Email Valerie at


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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.
Huston | Sep. 18, 2015
@Leslie - only partially true. Yes, the economy is not as what it was. But a lot of millennials have entitlement issues. Having a college education does not guarantee great jobs. With more graduates than ever, there is a lot of competition for those great jobs. The world has changed (just one example per survey - price of oil). Millennials need to adapt.

Leslie | Sep. 10, 2015
@ Floyd - Mostly because we followed the route we were told would be successful. Go to college (the more exclusive the better) and youll be set to do well in life. Turns out the economy left to us by older generations isnt all that great anymore and those great jobs that are open to the college-educated dont really exist. Trying to diagnose what causes the issues an entire generation faces in 3 sentences is impossible and almost uniformly incorrect

Floyd Burgoz | Sep. 7, 2015
Millennials are into instant gratification. Look at the personal debt they have incurred. More than 44 percent have moved back in with mom and pop.


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