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How the Energy Industry is Preparing for Generation Z Workers

STEM Skills will be vital for the next generation of workers


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The next generation of workers were born with a laptop in hand, having grown up communicating through social channels and having immediate access to information where ever and whenever they want or need it. 

For Gen Z, hard skills in STEM will become very important as they enter the workforce. "Solving tough problems, gathering and evaluating evidence and making sense of information are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering and math —subjects collectively known as STEM,” says a report from the U.S. Department of Education.

It is estimated that 61 million Generation Z (those born from 1997 onward) will disrupt sectors such as energy and technology due to their digital acumen once they infiltrate the workforce. And once they do, employers need to be prepared. Companies will need to adapt to the needs of this generation in order to stay competitive and remain relevant in the new digital economy.

According to industry experts, job descriptions are already changing to make way for the new economy. Descriptions are no longer static and are being reworked for the younger generation of engineers who have grown up using artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technologies. The digital landscape is playing a huge role in changing how the energy industry approaches and provides solutions to industry challenges.

In order to solve the problems of the future, employers need to get potential workers interested in STEM careers.

Commitment to Environment

Company executives are beginning to heed the concerns of its future workforce in order to better attract them.

“C-Suite commitment to reducing carbon emissions – from Shell and Chevron for example –  will lead to a wave of digital adoption,” says a report by Energy Digital, a digital platform for sharing insights and trends from across the energy industry.

“The new wave of innovation in the [oil and gas] industry means the array of career opportunities is far more progressive than was previously the case,” says a nationwide consumer survey by EY, a provider of assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.

By utilizing automation to work more efficiently, and adopting the latest technological advances, the energy industry can better solve the problems facing Gen Z. While recruiting a highly-skilled labor pool that can use these tools – a tremendously important factor as its aging workforce is rapidly retiring – today’s current teenagers will fill very different positions, changing the face of the entire industry.

Digital Solutions

According to the Pew Research Center, "Technology, in particular the rapid evolution of how people communicate and interact, is another generation-shaping consideration. The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means by which young Americans connected with the web was through mobile devices, WiFi and high-bandwidth cellular service, social media [and] constant connectivity."

Twenty-first century technologies have brought connectivity to the energy industry, allowing for more collaboration and innovation among its various stakeholder groups including those in the field at drilling sites and well servicing locations to truckers and other remote workers.

Gen Z has grown up knowing and using these technologies.  They are a generation that has had instant access to anything and everything at their fingertips, from ordering a ride via an app to downloading world news onto their phones and sharing it instantly with friends.  This generation views these resources as a given and expects to all resources at their immediate disposal.

Filling the Workforce Pipeline

A robust digital landscape, and a workforce knowledgeable and skilled in those technologies, will be essential for companies seeking to generate a pipeline of future workers to help meet the critical needs of the industry.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the skills that students will learn when studying STEM.

The Consumer Energy Education Foundation and Consumer Energy Alliance are looking to develop a skilled workforce by educating and informing educators, communities and parents about the benefits of a STEM education for having a successful career path for our future generation.

Andrew Browning is the chief operating officer of Consumer Energy Alliance and a chief organizer of Denver’s Free Energy Day festival being held Saturday, September 28, 2019, 11:00AM to 4:00PM at East High School. For more information on Energy Day, visit energydayfestival.org.

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