A seismic cultural shift is underway that will make it increasingly difficult for oil and gas companies to attract and retain knowledgeable, highly skilled workers — undermining the industry's ability to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
This shift is driven by the attitudes and perceptions of younger generations — some already in the workforce, others rapidly approaching that day — toward the industry and its impact on both the environment and society in general.
A recent survey found that 62% of Generation Z and 44% of millennial respondents considered a career in oil and gas unappealing.
Surveys such as this go a long way to highlight the importance of nurturing new talent entering the industry and celebrate when green shoots appear in our backyard. The Petroleum Club of Western Australia's newly formed, Young Professionals (PCYP) group is a perfect example. The group consists of a multidisciplinary team of young professionals who are keen to promote diversity and inclusion within the oil and gas industry.
One of the distinguishing features about PCYP is that its membership, committee and governance consists of young professionals who work for young professionals.
“I believe some of the challenges faced when entering the industry (as with any industry) is to find like-minded and driven individuals who are compatible to work with. Any network can be hard to crack and especially for small businesses and young professionals making their mark in the industry this can be a mountain of challenges,” said Saasha Callaghan a PCYP member and a Drafting & Administrator Manager at water treatment company Oleology.
The group, which is open to anyone under the age of 35 and with less than ten years industry experience will provide a platform for young professionals to build their network within the oil and gas industry.
“Industry organisations like the Petroleum Club help to ‘bridge the gap’ between university life and employment and continue to do so with great initiatives like PCYP, mentoring and student engagement programs,” said Business Development Strategist Leon Morgan.
PCYP aims to help young professionals network with other members through tailored networking and personal development events throughout the year, along with exclusive PCWA membership and event prices.
While many PCYP members agree that networking is vital for their future, it’s not something that they learnt at University.
“I believe that networking is a fundamental skill to any role in any industry. Sadly, short of ‘group projects’ these skills are usually an afterthought when planning a tertiary curriculum. It is through engaging programs like the PCYP that these skills are taught, honed and made valuable,” said Leon Morgan.
Similarly, Ms Callaghan feels that University can teach how to mingle with like-minded people however there is a limit.
“My experience in networking forums has grown by simply doing the work, attending multiple groups and networking not to gain something out of a relation but to give. The best relationships I have gained have been when I was able to give my time and effort and has proven to be the most rewarding and has developed more fruitful long-term business,” said Saasha.
The same survey - completed by professional services company EY - found that younger generations lacked awareness of the variety of jobs available in the industry with 55 per cent citing that a career in oil and gas would be a blue-collar role. For those within PCYP nothing could be further from the truth.
“Our technology has a vast application to many industries, but we have found that the Oil & Gas industry is more adaptive to new technologies. We have had great success and continue to strengthen our standing in this industry,” said Callaghan.
Leon, who is hoping to build his ‘personal brand’ through his involvement with PCYP, views his career choice in broad terms, "Perth is sustained by the resources sector and being part of it means being part of the growth of the region.”