Fossil Fuel Careers Losing Their Oily Shine?

Employment in oil and gas

Image: Ralf Roletschek, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

A new report says a “seismic cultural shift” is under way, posing a threat to oil and gas companies in attracting and keeping skilled workers.

An EY poll of 1,200 Americans indicates the industries have somewhat of an image problem and that is shaping the view of young folks in relation to career considerations.

According to the poll results, just 26% of Generation Z respondents (born after 1995) find oil and gas careers appealing.  With regard to millenials (born 1977-1994), only 45% without a set career path found jobs in the industry to be attractive.

Among women,  only 24% between 16 and 35 are interested in jobs in the sectors.

“Oil and gas companies need smart, capable employees now and for as long as the industry exists,” said Deborah Byers, US Energy Leader, Ernst & Young LLP. “But younger generations’ perceptions of oil and gas are leading them elsewhere.”

One of the major issues turning people off the industries is awareness of the environmental impact oil and gas operations have.

“Teens, in particular, believe strongly that oil companies do not care about what’s best for their generation, even though teens say they have the most significant stake in long-term environmental outcomes due to their age,” says the report.

It will come as no surprise then that 66% of the teens surveyed said they found a job working in green energy appealing.

An earlier poll by EY, the results of which were released in May, shows a majority (just) of millennials sees the industry as good for society, but most Gen Z respondents view it as negative. 48% of teens cited environmental concerns when justifying their negative perception of the industry. 56% of teens 16-18 and 41% of adults 19+ said the oil and gas industries’ contribution to society was not worth the impact to the environment.

The oil and gas sectors are certainly living in interesting and challenging times – and this potential skills shortage is another good reason for the majors to consider getting more skin in the renewable energy game.

As well as helping to win hearts and minds, as we mentioned recently the oil and gas majors have been warned the momentum of renewables is unstoppable and there’s a very strong case for them to grab wind and solar power market share while they can – their longer-term survival may depend on it.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. In response to ‘opportunity for O+G to jump onto solar’, before the fridge, there were central ice factories (fridges only came in the factory size), you bought ice from them, when the home refrigerator was invented, how many people that owned factories became fridge manufacturers? none. They weren’t in the business of ‘keeping your goods cold’, they were in the business of selling blocks of ice.

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