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).
HOW TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN STEM STUDENTS
The retiring of Baby Boomers and onslaught of younger workers has created a workforce shift that has added to the shortage of skilled workers in the oil and gas industry. The United States in particular has struggled with attracting female and minority students to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and graduating them, though efforts have increased.
When asked what can be done to make the oil and gas industry more appealing to young STEM students, our surveyed millennials’ responses were varied, including everything from offering more scholarships to more field exposure and training opportunities.
Here are a few survey responses:
- “Actually reaching out to [students] more while in college and funding innovative projects and technology for improving energy efficiency. We know we’re going to inherit awful circumstances due to centuries of rising carbon emissions. We want to work to improve our energy consumption in clean manners.”
- “Offer better perception of job security within the industry … push forward more family-friendly schedules. Our generation is no longer willing to just work away from home year-round to make money. They are more geared toward being there for their families. Our fathers were never home due to work, leaving a negative perception of that sort of life. We want to be able to provide for our families prosperously, but also watch them grow up.”
- “A clearer understanding of the opportunities available … Everyone goes to college for [a certain] degree, but no job board says ‘looking for [a certain] degree.’ The positions don’t always align with traditional degree plans. I think job postings need to highlight what traditional curriculum has resulted in the best fit for the position. Perhaps a study could be done to see who has been successful, identify those qualities and then target similar backgrounds of STEM students.”
- “One of the major problems in India when working in the public sector when the person belongs to the contractor company is communication. It becomes difficult to communicate at home and with friends. Often times, one’s life becomes completely isolated from his/her social life. That impact can be frustrating.”
- “Social network story-telling and hands-on tech and digital-friendly programs that appeal to the fast-paced generation and are dedicated to reversing the trend of negative public perception.”
- “Competition for talent around the globe is fierce, with excess supply in some regions and severe shortages in others. Leadership skills are particularly in demand and organizations are fighting to find and secure the best young employees who will become the leaders of the future. In such a competitive market, no company can afford to overlook any part of the talent pool – which means that diversity has become increasingly important.”
- “Oil and gas companies can focus on establishing relationships with the local communities that they operate in by sponsoring team sports, school events, fundraising efforts, education presentations, etc.”