Workforce of the future survey by ADNOC: Half of young STEM talent interested in oil and gas career

Currently, three in four young STEM talent believe that new technologies will have an impact on the oil and gas industry, compared to nine out of ten for the technology sector

Workforce of the Future panel discussion in progress at CERAWeek.
Workforce of the Future panel discussion in progress at CERAWeek.

The oil and gas industry is facing strong competition in attracting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent, with 44% of STEM millennials and Generation Zs (Gen Z) interested in pursuing a career in oil and gas, compared to 77% in the technology sector, 58% in life sciences and pharmaceuticals, and 57% in healthcare – according to the inaugural global ‘Workforce of the Future’ survey released by ADNOC at CERAWeek by IHS Markit.

Interest in oil and gas is on par with the marketing and advertising (48%), hospitality (47%), transport/logistics (46%) and retail (41%) industries. The survey was commissioned by ADNOC to examine future workforce and employment trends in the oil and gas industry, particularly as the industry looks to attract STEM talent and enable the 4th Industrial Age.

This is in line with ADNOC’s Oil & Gas 4.0 mission to help meet the world’s increasing demand for energy and higher-value products – by fostering a dynamic and performance-led culture that cultivates talent and applies the latest technology to optimise resources.

The survey interviewed STEM students and young professionals aged 15 to 35 in 10 countries – across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, representing a mix of significant global economies, and producers and consumers of oil and gas – and looked at their perceptions across multiple STEM-related industries, including oil and gas, and the skills they value and believe are required to succeed in these industries.

Key findings include: (i) ‘Salary’, ‘work-life balance’, ‘job stability’, ‘on-the-job fulfilment’, and ‘a good work environment’ are ranked the top five drivers behind potential career choices for STEM millennials and Gen Zs. (ii) Young STEM talent also associate the oil and gas industry with high salaries and see it as an industry that is invaluable. ‘The industry pays well’, ‘the industry is crucial for their country’s economy and development’, and it is ‘an industry we couldn’t live without’, are ranked as the top three positive attributes about the industry. (iii) STEM millennials and Gen Zs show the most interest in industries that they believe will be most impacted by new technologies. Globally, 42% say that new technologies will have a major impact on the oil and gas industry, while 56% say the same for healthcare, 53% for life sciences and pharmaceuticals, and 73% for the technology industry. Nearly three in four (72%) believe that new technologies will have an overall impact on the oil and gas industry, compared to nine out of ten for the technology sector.

Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and ADNOC Group CEO, said: “The findings from the ADNOC ‘Workforce of the Future’ survey show that the more STEM millennials and Gen Zs associate oil and gas with new technologies, the more interested they will be in a career in the industry. The oil and gas industry should position itself at the cutting-edge of technology and showcase how breakthrough innovation is vital to every aspect of our business – across the upstream and downstream value chain.”

“The world’s demand for energy and higher-value products continues to increase at an unprecedented rate. In order to meet that demand, our industry must stay ahead of the curve and ensure we continue to attract, retain and develop our young people. As we enter the 4th Industrial Age, we need to come together as an industry and – with our technology industry partners – better highlight the exciting opportunities our dynamic industry offers to young talent with strong technology skills,” Dr Al Jaber added.

The results also show that STEM millennials and Gen Zs appear divided on whether oil and gas is an industry of the future (45%), or the past (44%). The data also indicates a mismatch between what STEM millennials and Gen Zs see as the most important skills to succeed professionally versus what they see are the most important skills for a career in the oil and gas industry.

‘Information technology and computer’ skills (37%) and ‘creativity and innovative thinking’ (33%) are seen as the most important skill sets for succeeding in the future, but only 18% see ‘IT and computer’ and ‘creativity and innovative thinking’ as important skills for a career in oil and gas. Similarly, while 26% say programming languages are key for future professional success, only 11% view it as an important skill in the oil and gas industry.

The data also shows that some experience in the job market and a tertiary education in STEM subjects can help change perceptions positively towards a career in the oil and gas sector. While interest is low among secondary school-age STEM students (37% are interested in a career in oil and gas), this figure rises to approximately half (51%) of young professionals being interested in pursuing a career in the sector – representing a 14-point increase.

Dr Al Jaber added: “It is encouraging that STEM talent begin to view oil and gas more favourably and acknowledge the benefits and opportunities the industry offers as they mature and enter the workforce. However, there is clearly an opportunity to start engaging earlier and emphasising how technology and softer skills such as ‘creativity and innovative thinking’ are important for oil and gas.

“Oil and gas has always been – and will continue to be – an industry of the future that is at the forefront of technology and innovation. It is an exciting time for STEM talent to join the industry, particularly as we advance our Oil & Gas 4.0 mission and embrace new technologies and partnerships for digital and technological transformation across our entire operations,” concluded Dr Al Jaber.

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