News Oil & Gas

Attracting next generation of Oil & Gas professionals is ‘tricky’

Concerns about the ‘Great Crew Change’ that began as the shale revolution took off are combining with concerns about the “Great Resignation” of the pandemic era and how companies will meet their staffing needs.

Oil companies have an additional challenge of attracting the next generation of professionals as they work to overcome public perceptions about the environmental impact of fossil fuels.

“It can get tricky,” acknowledged Vince Dawkins, chief executive officer and president of Enertia Software.

Speaking with the Reporter-Telegram by telephone, Dawkins advised energy companies to “dive into” those concerns.

If the concern is about oil and gas “going away,” he suggested asking the applicant about their car, what appliances they have in their home and point out all the things that are dependent on oil and gas to emphasize that oil and gas isn’t going away soon.

“Ask questions, provoke thought,” he suggested.

Those just coming out of college or who are early in their careers have different viewpoints and ideas that can be valuable, he added. It’s not thinking outside the box, he said, but “hopefully start to widen the box.”

Enertia is a software company specializing in serving the upstream sector of the energy industry, and Dawkins said technical skills have become as important as reservoir engineering, a production foreman or accountant.

Adequate staffing is difficult now because the labor market is shrinking, Dawkins said. And he offered a warning for operators to prepare for the years ahead.

“I do see a cycle of the labor market shrinking and then beginning to expand again,” he said. “Oil companies would be smart to prepare – put things in place to be ready for the onslaught.”

Have the mindset of continually looking for the best talent rather than trying to hire in waves, he continued. And look for new hires that don’t necessarily have the best experience but fit into the corporate culture, challenge the system and bring new ideas that will improve the company, he said.

Retaining staff is also super valuable, Dawkins said. Employers seeking to retain talented staffers must be competitive not just in salaries but in the challenges the jobs offer and the growth potential of those jobs. He said employers must make sure to have regular conversations with their staffs about what drives them in their position and what they want from the work.

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