Like many industries today, the oil industry is trying to sell its many job opportunities to the fastest growing portion of the global workforce: Millennials. But unlike any other industry, oil and gas is facing more challenges in persuading the environmentally-conscious Millennials that oil is “cool”.

During the Super Bowl earlier this year, the American Petroleum Institute (API) launched an ad geared toward millennials, who now make up the largest generation in the US labor force.

“This ain’t your daddy’s oil”, the ad says, in what API described as “a modern look at how oil is integrated into products consumers use now and in the future supported by bold visuals.”  

Despite its pitch to speak the millennials’ language and reach out to the elusive generation, the ad sparked anger with many consumers and viewers.

Millennials continue to have the most negative opinion toward the oil industry compared to all other industries, and they don’t see a career in oil and gas as their top choice of a workplace. The oil industry’s talent scouting and recruiting methods of the past are failing to reach millennials, who want their work to have a positive impact on society, various studies and polls have found – a rather big ask for the oil industry.

This failure to reach the group that makes up the largest portion of today’s workforce -which now surpasses Generation X – points to a huge problem for the oil sector, as Baby Boomers move into retirement in droves.

Not only are millennials snubbing oil and gas because of its negative image, they also seek different job perks than previous generations sought, and in this regard, the oil industry will need to do more as it becomes increasingly obvious that millennials want different things than what oil executives think they want.

A total of 14 percent of millennials say they would not want to work in the oil and gas industry because of its negative image – the highest percentage of any industry, McKinsey said in September 2016.

Young people see the industry as dirty, difficult, and dangerous, according to an EY survey published last month. EY’s survey polled millennials – the 20-to-35-year-olds today—as well as Generation Z coming after them, and found that younger generations “question the longevity of the industry as they view natural gas and oil as their parents’ fuels. Further, they primarily see the industry’s careers as unstable, blue-collar, difficult, dangerous and harmful to society.”

In addition, two out of three teens believe the oil and gas industry causes problems rather than solves them, the survey showed.

So ‘not your daddy’s oil’ is not sinking in with millennials and Generation Z, and with many of them, it never will, despite the oil lobbies’ marketing efforts to try to make it sound like an attractive career path.

(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

According to executives polled by EY, the top three drivers for young people would be salary (72 percent), opportunity to use the latest technology (43 percent), and a good work-life balance (38 percent). But young people – although they are also prioritizing salary – have other views on what they look for in a job. Salary is still the top priority at 56 percent, but a close second comes good work-life balance (49 percent), with job stability and on-the-job happiness equally important at 37 percent.

Executives are underestimating the importance of work-life balance and stability for Millennials, while overestimating the allure of technology as a factor. It’s not surprising that Millennials are not as attracted to the opportunity to use new tech as oil executives believe they are – Millennials generally don’t see technology as a perk, they take it for granted. Moreover, millennials don’t see the oil and gas industry as innovative – a major driver of career choice among this generation. According to a recent report by Accenture, “Despite evidence to the contrary, many millennials believe the sector is lacking innovation, agility and creativity, as well as opportunities to engage in meaningful work. In fact, only 2 percent of US college graduates consider the oil and gas industry their top choice for employment.”

Accenture is warning that ‘the talent well has run dry’ and said:“We believe the growing workforce deficit will, in fact, be a greater barrier to oil and gas companies’ upturn success than any deficits that might exist in capital, equipment or supplies.”

The oil and gas industry is losing the competition for talent recruitment to industries that are more appealing to millennials, and US oil and gas firms will face the talent crunch first, according to Accenture.

“Any mature industry has to think about the fact that there’s a new sheriff in town with new values, new spending habits,” Jeff Fromm, an expert in marketing to American millennials, told Bloomberg.

And if the oil and gas industry wants to get this ‘new sheriff in town’ on board, it needs to profoundly change recruitment strategies and talent sourcing. But with the negative image that is probably set to become even more negative – despite oil organizations’ marketing efforts – oil and gas has a huge workforce problem looming.

Source: ‘Dirty, difficult, and dangerous’: Why millennials won’t work in oil —

4 Thoughts on “Why Millennials Won’t Work In Oil”

  • My father worked in the oil industry as an economist. He had a degree in petroleum engineering and business so understood the petroleum industry form a number of angles. The environmental heroes that will never get due credit are the many brilliant and hardworking engineers in the energy and transportation fields who over decades have made amazing leaps forward in cleaner fuels and cleaner transport of goods. As for the nuclear industry few people know that nuclear waste is now a small fraction of what it used to be. Political demand is only one part of how that transformation came about. It also took nuclear engineers. Better car designs and cleaner fuel don’t come about simply because people vote one way or another. Voting can create a demand but engineering makes the response happen. It is simplistic to simply be against the oil industry, the nuclear industry or the coal industry. Solar, wind and water power all remain resistant to engineering efforts to retain and transmit the energy they provide which means they continue to be productive when used locally and immediately and not very productive otherwise. That’s the brutal truth. It is now possible to grab an immense amount of solar power from amazingly designed solar panels but these create such intense local heat that birds flying over them sometimes combust into flames and the heat energy still dissipates quickly. No one form of energy is likely ever to be a panacea in overcoming pollution. In fact there is new research into creating cleaner burning flames may become revolutionary in curtailing pollution despite the fact that solar, wind and water power are the favored energy sources in the minds of many environmentalists. Additionally, popular ideas about locally sourced small scale farming don’t negate the fact that ever increasing numbers of people worldwide live in cities, some of which are home to millions of residents. Transport by huge cargo carrying ocean vessels and vast miles of rail tracks remain an unbeatable low energy means of reaching cities with the food and goods their residents need to survive. We need engineers and scientists in all energy fields to continue to knowledgeably increase progress, access risks of new ideas and reveal false solutions in the energy industry. When being environmentally conscious means a simplistic refusal to be a part of an energy field, that being oil in this discussion, our ability to make environmental improvements will logically decrease . We need young engineers in all of the energy industries. Just imagine if everyone voted for cleaner air but there were no engineers to make this happen.

  • As I sit here working in the oilpatch in south Texas I can tell you why younger people are not going into oil and gas. They see the industry as unstable as it’s constant boom-bust cycles where they’ve seen their parents work for a few years and then laid off and struggling for a few years. That turns off everybody from working in any natural resource industry whether it’s oil and gas, mining, timber, etc. Can’t say I blame them – when this boom goes bust as it always does I will simply retire like all my colleagues have done over the last few years. Where will the next generation oil field workers come from? I tell you, I work with mostly Mexicans who migrated here to make six figures while the good times roll. Some places have talked of using imported Chinese labor.

    As for those of us who remain in this sector, the old saying goes “Please God, give me one more oil boom. This time I promise not to piss it away”

  • They couldn’t put their smart phones (the biggest dumbing down product ever produced) down long enough to ever have a job like that. They don’t really like cars either for some reason I guess preferring to walk. This generation of left wing, oil kills mommy earth type snowflakes don’t have what it takes to work in oil. In fact this brainless generation (thanks mom and dad for really working your magic on this group of…duds) doesn’t have anything (to offer) at all.

  • Just offer to pay off their school loans with a 10 yr work commitment!
    But be careful what you ask for this generation is lazy, ungrateful and expect Everything on a silver platter! If they saw grateful immigrants take these jobs it wdrive them mad!

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