Is the industry lacking youth participation?
Murmur grows louder as millenials continue to be found disinterested in oil and gas jobs for want of opportunities
Since the oil and gas industry has been the biggest employer in the region, a reduction of the labour force and resulting lack of jobs is not just the industry’s problem but a pervading social issue which the region is having to cope with. However, there’s a far deeper issue which has been simmering latently for years now, and has resurfaced again as a corollary to the current dismal job scenario – the dearth of employment opportunities for the youth.
It is no secret that the oil and gas industry has an ageing workforce – numerous executives admit it and studies have proved it. While the regional upstream sector’s reliance mostly on its loyal workers, who have been serving from the time of their employment till retirement, isn’t the concern, the chronic issue is that the industry has stopped short of attracting fresh talent graduating out of reputed universities in the region.
The subject was up for debate during the recent Gulf Intelligence-hosted UAE Energy Forum. Most people gathered at the event seemed convinced about the fact that these spirited millennials, with their willingness to make a difference, would rather opt for careers in industries and sectors that have been offering them the opportunities to express themselves.
The oil and gas industry, unfortunately, has not been known to tap young individuals and give wings to their innovative ideas. A ‘shortage of skilled labour’ is what the industry suffers from, we hear frequently. As a result, this has been reflected in the very functioning of the industry, which, in comparison to other sectors, has lagged behind in applying modern engineering or implementing digital concepts like automation to its operations.
Green shoots have surely been appearing, though. The industry players, realising what they have been missing out on, have been making concerted efforts to win over talented youth. Major employers have been running their own academies to train and scout for bright minds, as well as offering scholarships for relevant educational degrees to lure students. Mega industry events like ADIPEC have been holding special workshops to give millennials a taste of the industry. So do we, by way of the Oil & Gas Middle East Awards, each year recognise the achievements of young professionals.
Steps are being made in the right direction, but achieving the feat of making the industry a youthful and vibrant one is a long road ahead.