Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

When people talk about the “The Great Crew Change,” or the fact that over half of the energy workforce is over 55 years old and will be retiring in the next seven years, one of the often-asked questions is, “who will replace them?”

According to an EY poll, only 18% of Millennials and 6% of Gen Zers find a career in oil and gas very appealing. Many young people see the energy industry as unstable, dangerous and harmful to the environment.

Another reason for the shortage of talent in the energy industry is the growing demand for graduates STEM degrees in other industries. Many of these alternative industries offer better work-life balance versus the oil and gas industry as well as more inclusive employee bases

There’s also less diversity in the energy industry workforce compared to the overall US workforce.  For example, 6.7% of the current energy workforce, are African Americans compared with 12% of the US workforce. Women make up 47% of the US workforce but only 17% of the energy sector.

Gender and ethnic diversity

While we know that companies need to consider diversity in their workforce to find young talent to replace retiring employees, the bigger question of how to do this is important.

First, energy companies with talent shortages should acknowledge if there’s a diversity problem and take proper action. They should look at the demographics of their workforce and ask themselves how they can expand their reach. If a company or industry does not offer opportunities for a diverse group of people, many young potential employees will not consider them.

Organization and system for everyone

Companies should organize such that there are accountability and transparency in policies, organizational systems and practices. Company policies should have the same impact on diverse employees as with the rest of the workforce. There should be equal opportunities in career development for all employees.

Organizational changes take time. Energy companies with talent shortages should act now to be ready for the consequences of the “great crew change.”