The Power Generation: how young people are securing the future of oil and gas

It is easy to be pessimistic about the workforce of the future when it comes to oil and gas. There is much talk about the potential of a skills crunch across the energy sector. An EY Oil and Gas Perception Study from 2017 found that almost 40% thought a career in oil and gas to be ‘very unappealing’. A further 23% thought a career in energy to be somewhat unappealing. Gen Z does not seem to see jobs in this section of the industry to be the destination of choice.

However, this hides one fundamental truth about Gen Y and Gen Z, which is the overwhelming lure of tech-focused industry. It is undoubtedly true that energy companies have faced difficulties in overcoming prejudice against a sector that is seen to contribute to climate change and global warming. However, this denies the intelligence of young people who understand that there is a need for talent to provide energy solutions for the future. The politically conscious and social media savvy young people of the future know that finding the future of energy is a matter of urgency for an economically, politically and environmentally stable world.

The characteristics of Gen Y

Generation Y will make up over 30% of the developed world’s workforce by 2025. Therefore, understanding what makes this generation tick should provide not only hope but also guidance on how oil and gas companies can work to attract the most talented amongst them.

First, it is essential to know that this generation is not content to be a faceless individual within an organisation. The balance between money-making and ethics, as well as home and work, are fundamental. It is likely that this generation will continue to be motivated by making a difference, not as an idealistic pursuit but in a determination to wrong the rights of previous generations.

It is likely that Gen Y and Gen Z will be evermore motivated by career advancement, exploration of new responsibility and leadership over monetary reward. Therefore, the skills crunch that is anticipated when baby boomers retire could easily be overcome with ingenious management schemes that engage the interest of these young people early and while the older professionals are still in post.

Realising the potential

So rather than becoming overloaded with a sense of doom, it is a good idea to see the potential in this goal-orientated group who want to work in a tech-savvy and environment-focused industry.

The British Government have recognised the opportunity early. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills teamed up with OPITP and UKOOG, as well as RenewableUK and URENCO, to create the OurFuture.Energy website. The project aims to engage 11 – 16 years olds in resolving the “trilemma” of sourcing future energy. The group want young people to join the debate about how to deliver 1) clean, 2) affordable, and 3) reliable energy. The site offers an interactive and immersive experience that encourages this group who are motivated by achieving the goal to provide sustainable energy.

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