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Laying the Groundwork for America’s Energy Future

Colorado energy industry cultivates next generation of talent


An industry that has long fueled Colorado is facing a fuel shortage of its own: an insufficient skilled workforce committed to the continued safe and responsible development of energy.

For decades, the oil and natural gas industry has served as one of Colorado’s strongest economic engines.

Home to America’s fourth largest oilfield, Colorado ranks sixth and seventh in the production of natural gas and oil in the country, respectively. Even in 2015, a year that saw depressed commodity prices and reduced headcounts at oil and natural gas companies, the industry in Colorado employed almost 233,000 people and contributed more than $31 billion to the state economy, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers and industry trade group American Petroleum Institute released last month.

But with an estimated third of the oil and natural gas industry’s engineers and geoscientists slated to retire within the decade, Colorado’s ability to continue playing a key role in meeting the country’s energy needs will depend on a new generation to build upon the successes already achieved over the past decades and innovate our way to develop energy that is even more efficient, cleaner and safer.

Other industries in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields share the energy industry’s struggles to fill their ranks. According to a study released this spring by bipartisan advocacy group New American Economy, job openings in STEM industries in Colorado outnumbered unemployed workers skilled in those fields by a factor of 15.3. In other words, there were more than 15 jobs in STEM industries open for every STEM-qualified candidate available to fill them.

Addressing the gaps in our STEM workforce begins with recognizing that our future leaders and innovators are currently sitting in classrooms, curious about the world, hungry for knowledge, and eager to imagine their future careers.

Since 2014, Anadarko employees have dedicated time to Mead High School’s Energy Academy in Mead, Colo., where they share information, support students and help them learn about the different forms of energy development – from mapping out the earth’s subsurface, to building infrastructure that protects water resources, as well as harnessing the energy produced deep underground to support the freedoms we all enjoy every day.

Since opening its doors to 25 students, Mead High School’s Energy Academy has quadrupled its enrollment, expanding horizons and minds for almost 100 students.

Anadarko and other energy companies in the state also serve as resources for teachers focused on energy-related curricula through collaborations with non-profit organizations such as the Poudre Valley Learning Center. 

As part of greeting the new school year, trade associations and companies within the energy space have worked together to host Denver’s first-ever Energy Day festival at East High School on Sept. 23, 2017.

We encourage you to join us at Energy Day – and work with us to inspire and encourage the next generation of energy leaders.

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