Many people still visualize “overalls and grease” when they think of the energy sector. In fact, this is diametrically opposite of the many cutting-edge fast-paced global projects and careers in energy. Changing perceptions is not easy. Many energy companies are struggling to educate students, parents, guidance counselors, and experienced professionals about the cutting technologies and talented people. The energy sector is no longer the volatile industry of the 80s. Today, it is dynamic, forward-thinking, global, and inter-disciplinary. It urgently needs research scientists, engineers, physicists, geologists, and information technology specialists, to name a few. Large retirements are expected even as the industry sees a steady decline in the number of students pursuing degrees relevant to energy. Without experienced talent, the energy sector simply cannot achieve its full potential. Cost overruns, project delays, safety accidents, economic loss, decline in exciting discoveries, and loss in our global ranking are inevitable, unless and until leaders address this problem head on. What is needed is a comprehensive industry-wide talent acquisition strategy.
One way to address this shortage is to tap into the extraordinary talent pool of women, minorities, and other underrepresented segments. The industry should launch a targeted marketing effort to reach out to this segment of the population. An educational campaign hand in hand with an all out effort to reach out to underserved segments of the population will yield rich benefits. Professional associations can play an important role to play in this effort.