The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Let’s Grow the Workforce to Sustain Our Energy Renaissance

Jack Gerard

Jack Gerard
Posted September 18, 2014

America’s oil and natural gas industry supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. Industry’s extensive network of 30,000 vendors, suppliers, and contractors create and support jobs and grow the economy in every state in the union and almost every congressional district.

What this speaks to is the unprecedented opportunity created by America’s 21st century energy renaissance, which is a direct result of technical advances in the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.  If we seize this moment in our history and work together on energy policies that promote the safe and responsible development of our nation’s enormous energy resources, our industry will not only create and support millions of well-paying jobs far into the future, but also make America a global energy superpower for generations.

An IHS Global report estimates that over 950,000 job opportunities could be created by 2020 and nearly 1.3 million job opportunities through 2030 across the country in the oil and natural gas and petrochemicals industry.  These are good paying careers that pay well above the national average.

The jobs the oil and natural gas industry creates will require people with a wide range of skill sets, training and educational achievement levels, meaning that the opportunities we offer are not limited to a few highly skilled or specialized workers within a particular region of the country.

What the report makes clear is that this nation will not be able to fulfill its potential as a global energy leader without more hands on deck, particularly minority and female workers.  The report estimates that there are nearly 408,000 job opportunities that could be filled by African American and Hispanic workers, with 185,000 being filled by women. 

African American and Hispanic workers are projected to make up nearly 20 percent of new hires in management, business, and financial jobs through 2030.  These estimates are based on current and projected trends in factors such as labor force participation rates and educational attainment, and should be considered a floor, not a ceiling for job opportunities.  In order to be competitive for all 1.3 million jobs, certain education and workforce training must occur.

New House legislation would help achieve our shared goal of fuller participation by more Americans  in the 21st century American energy renaissance by streamlining the coordination  between the various sectors within the energy industry and the federal government, creating  guidelines for training, encouraging  STEM education that will expand the pool of qualified workers at all levels of educational achievement and by working with state energy offices to provide high school career counselors with regional job opportunities. 

The bill will also enhance the productive working relationship with North America’s Building Trades Unions who have been an invaluable partner with the oil and gas industry by working with labor to identify and train a workforce with the credentials needed to compete in all skill levels in the energy industry.

Put simply, this legislation will help bring our nation closer to the day when the tremendous job creation and economic growth brought about by America’s vast energy resources  are no longer projections, but reality for millions more Americans.


Jack N. Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. He also has served as the president and CEO of trade associations representing the chemical and mining industries. Jack understands how Washington works. He spent several years working in the U.S. Senate and House, and co-founded a Washington-based government relations consulting firm. A native of Idaho, Jack also is very active in the Boy Scouts of America, a university graduate program on politics, and his church’s leadership. He and his wife are the proud parents of eight children, including twin boys adopted from Guatemala.