Why the modern-day oil and gas industry needs Millennials to survive.

A 2016 report by McKinsey & Company found that 14 percent of millennials said they would not work in the oil and gas industry because of its negative image – the highest percentage of any industry. With millennials set to comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, it is imperative companies within the oil and gas industry do more to attract younger talent. 

In recent years, the oil and gas industry has seen the landscape in which it operates undergo significant change, marked by a West-East shift in socio-political and economic power and influence. This shift in influence is perhaps most exemplified by the long-awaited free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 

The six countries of the GCC represent an important region for the EU and represented its fourth largest export market in 2016. This new FTA also provides a massive opportunity for growth for the GCC, particularly its oil and gas industries. Abu Dhabi – an Emirate whose economy was driven largely by the advancement of local oil and gas infrastructure – is already well on its way towards capitalizing on this opportunity. In May, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, held an investment forum to highlight the growing importance the company gives to its fledgling downstream business. 

The forum attracted industry luminaries from across the EU, with the chief executives of BP, Total, Eni, HSBC and Siemens in attendance. With US oil use predicted to fall by3 million barrels per day (bpd) and the EU’s by 4.3 million bpd by 2014; Asia’s predicted rise 0f 8.6 million bpd during the same period, is one of the key drivers behind the EU’s increased desire to secure a foot-hold in the emerging Middle East market.

Abu Dhabi’s downstream sector has plenty of potential to grow – the Gulf Petrochemical Association assessed the UAE’s 2016 petrochemical capacity as 13 million tonnes per year (Mtpa), compared with Saudi Arabia’s 106 million tonnes per year (Mtpa). To close that gap, Abu Dhabi has begun utilizing increasingly sophisticated technologies and hiring more technologically astute employees. There is no generation better equipped to lead Abu Dhabi’s growth in this sector than the ‘digital natives’ – the millennials.

To prepare this generation for the task, Abu Dhabi has implemented several initiatives aimed at fostering the skills and experience necessary for a career in the oil and gas industry. Last month, employees from ADNOC, many of whom were women, became the first group of trainees to start a two-year professional development programme with European oilfield services company Schlumberger. The initiative is part of a wider joint venture between ADNOC and Schlumberger which previously saw Schlumberger license ADNOC’s proprietary offshore drilling technology for use in their own portfolio of drilling services. Concurrently, initiatives have been put in place to help the current leaders of the oil and gas industry prepare and welcome the millennial generation and be able to adequately accommodate their working styles and aspirations.

In a research paper produced as part of a collaboration between Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI), it was found that millennials tended to define diversity beyond demographic characteristics and more along the lines of cognitive diversity and the variety of experiences and perspectives that each individual brings to the table. More than any prior generation, millennials emphasize that they see inclusion as fundamental to the way companies do business.

The Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC), the world’s leading oil and gas conference, provides a platform for the industry’s key officials and influencers to convene and discuss issues facing the industry and its future; leading the narrative regarding all things oil and gas. ADIPEC routinely attracts the industry’s most influential leaders. One such dignitary scheduled to participate in a panel discussion during this year’s conference is His Excellency Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouej, the UAE’S Minister of Energy who will be on hand to discuss Abu Dhabi’s plans for encouraging the next generation of careers in oil and gas. These plans include investing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects) and oil and gas training; while developing tech savvy skills sets.

With changing demands across many of the industry’s traditional markets, the escalating trade dispute between the US and China, and the rise of digitalization and globalization; understanding how to transform diversity of thought and technical proficiency amongst millennials into a high performing workflow in emerging markets such as Abu Dhabi can create a positive impact on bottom-line results.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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