Employment Outlook for Entry Level Positions in the Oil and Gas Industry
While the economy continues its slow march to recovery since the 2008 recession, thousands of graduates entering the workforce are wondering where they might find employment. While most industries seem hesitant to hire inexperienced workers, that is not true of the oil and gas industry.
Retirement of an Aging Workforce in Oil and Gas
In terms of hiring, the oil and gas industry had been slowing since its last boom in the 1980’s. Peaking around 1982 with close to 900,000 workers, numbers had fallen to record lows for the industry. As of 2009, the industry held just over 500,000 workers, a little over half of its peak thirty years earlier.
What this means is there is an aging workforce, packed with senior workers, who over the next five years will be looking to retire. If these skilled and experienced workers are allowed to leave without doing a knowledge transfer to younger workers, a huge skills gap could develop in the industry. Employers are looking to hire so that engineers close to retirement can transfer their knowledge and experience to a younger workforce. Ultimately, this new generation will take the place of the older workers as they retire.
Shale Oil Boom
No matter what your opinion is on the process of fracking and any harm that it might cause the environment, there is no denying it has caused a boom in the petroleum industry. Shale has increase US production of oil from around 300 million tons in 2008 to close to 500 million tons in 2012. Along with this increase in oil, there has been a proportionate increase in natural gas production. Because of this increase in production, employers need more workers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 38.500 jobs in petroleum engineering alone with a projected increase of 26% over the next ten years. This means an increase of over 10,000 high paying engineering jobs alone. These statistics do not reflect the amount of skilled labor needed to support the work these engineers are doing.
High Demand for Energy Means High Demand for Fuel
What is driving the need for all of this natural gas and oil? Energy is the answer. As more and more of the world have larger energy demands, the need for more power plants and fuel for those plants becomes greater. Couple this with environmental regulations that make coal and nuclear energy more expensive alternatives, and you have a high demand for a cheap natural gas fuel to produce that clean energy.
The Need for Fresh Faces
Oil and gas companies recognize the need to have young employees who are capable of bearing the torch of the retiring engineers and forging a new path to the future. Because of this and a shortage of employment prospects, some companies are offering starting salaries that are 50% higher than starting wages in other industries. This increase in demand seems to be focused on entry level positions with no experience or four year degrees. High demand for workers, high demand for product and a growing industry with a shrinking workforce all make for an excellent outlook for entry level employees in the Oil and Gas industry. Some industry experts are projecting employment increases as high as 30%. Wages have already gone up 27% over the last two years. Graduates and young adults entering the workforce can have excellent earning potential and career longevity in the shale oil and gas industry.
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Sources & Related Articles:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013) “Petroleum Engineers.” Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/petroleum-engineers.htm
2. England, J. (2014) “2014 Outlook on Oil & Gas” Retrieved from http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Industries/industry-outlook/2a5868f26abf2410VgnVCM1000003256f70aRCRD.htm
3. Thompson, R. (2011, June 12) “Oil and gas industry ponders its future work forces wave of retirement is on the horizon.” Retrieved from href=”http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2011/06/oil_and_gas_industry_ponders_i.html