The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Opportunities for Millennials Abound

Kate Wallace

Kate Wallace
Posted January 18, 2018

As an industry, we’re working to build a diverse workforce – in terms of race, gender and age – that reflects our changing world. A new API study shows how employment opportunities in the natural gas and oil industry continue to expand beyond the need for engineers, welders and geologists – especially for Millennials. Technology-driven jobs like data scientists and software developers are on the rise as the industry tackles new challenges in an increasingly digital world.

No generation is a better fit for these roles than a group that has grown up in an era of digitalization. Millennials have unique characteristics that will enable them to power past impossible. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“We are excited to see the next generation of energy workers lead the industry into the future. The study shows Millennials will play a major role in providing America’s ongoing energy needs. The oil and natural gas industry will experience significant turnover and growth in the years to come with great opportunities for millennials.”

Millennials & STEM GIF

From Generation to Generation

The study determined that as a group Millennials are more diverse and better educated than previous generations, providing an opportunity for our industry to tap a broader set of skills and more diverse perspectives than ever before, which will strengthen our industry now and into the future. More on Millennials (birth years 1981-2000) compared to Baby Boomers (1946-62) and Gen-Xers (1964-80):

  • More diverse—45 percent of Millennials in 2016 were Hispanic, African American or from some other minority group, compared to one-third of Gen-Xers and 22 percent of Baby Boomers at a corresponding age.
  • Better educated—About 66 percent of Millennials ages 25 to 34 in 2016 have had at least some college coursework, compared with 56 percent of Gen-Xers at a corresponding age and 45 percent of Baby Boomers. 
  • More likely to be in professional, technical, and service occupations—Nearly 50 percent of working Millennials are employed in professional, technical, and service occupations compared to 33 percent of Gen-Xers and 30 percent of Baby Boomers at the same age.

An Opportunity for Millennials and Our Industry

By harnessing Millennials’  signature quest to build a better future and their innate desire for technology, the industry can be well-positioned to address tomorrow’s greatest challenges. Important takeaways from the study conducted for API by IHS:

  • Millennials account for 46 percent of all industry employment in unskilled blue collar occupations and 42 percent in semi-skilled blue collar occupations.
  • Millennials will be nearly 41 percent of our workforce – a 20 percent increase – by 2025.
  • The share of Millennials in managerial, business and financial occupations and in professional and related occupations will increase to 39 percent by 2025.

millennials 46 percent

In fact, 40 percent or more of industry’s worker base is on track to retire by 2035. With nearly 1.9 million new job opportunities projected due to these retirements, industry growth, and pro-development policies, there is a vast opportunity for the industry to attract, retain, and develop lifelong careers for Millennials. Gerard again:

“Energy is a growing sector …. We want young people to know there are lifelong energy careers waiting for them with salaries nearly $50,000 higher than the national average.”

millennials 39 percent

Millennials and the Workforce

More than one-third – 34 percent – of industry’s workforce in 2015 was comprised of Millennials. This is nearly identical to the economy-wide 35 percent share of Millennials in total employment that same year. That means Millennials aren’t opting out of oil and natural gas; they’re choosing to work in our industry the same way they’re choosing to work in other fields.

This new report, together with a recent study showing increased industry job opportunities for women and minorities and a STEM study released by API in December build on our industry’s efforts to diversify and strengthen our workforce, and help expand job opportunities and economic development for all Americans.

A significant number of the oil and natural gas industry positions that Millennials will fill require strong skills in the STEM disciplines across all education levels. In fact, holding a STEM bachelor’s degree nearly doubles the likelihood of working in the oil and natural gas industry, and earning a degree in an industry-specific or related field increases the likelihood of working in the industry by three to seven times. Increasing the number of Millennials who earn these types of degrees will allow the industry to hire even more of them.

Our industry is committed to energizing future generations that have diverse perspectives to problem solving and innovative solutions that will one day help power the natural gas and oil industry. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Wallace is an associate of research and content development for the American Petroleum Institute. Before joining API she was a researcher and policy analyst at America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and worked on pollinator conservation programs and state wildlife conservation policies before entering the energy industry. Kate graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Resource Economics, and earned her Master of Public Administration from George Mason University. She loves taking her dogs on hikes, travelling and navigating the northern Virginia/DC craft beer and wine scenes with her friends and family.