Do you know anything about the number of jobs available in the energy sector these days? If you are a job recruiter you probably do. That would be because the oil and gas industry is in the beginning of yet another period of boom and are actively looking for new grads to fill important low level positions. Everything from engineering grads to fine tune new designs for rotary shaft seal components to software engineers to create new programs to look for new oil fields are being recruited.
While it may be true that alternative energy is slowly replacing traditional energy sources, population growth and the emergence of former third world nations as centers of industry mean that this is a sector that will need to continue to produce. The question remains, can they find the recruits to continue? There are several factors that are making this current round of recruiting a particularly tough one on many university campuses.
Slow Upward Mobility
The energy sector has a history of fluctuations in job opportunities, tied to the shifting price of oil and gas. Because this creates a certain instability, the last few layoff cycles saw many of the higher-level employees moved down into lower title and payrate jobs in order to hold on to that accumulated knowledge as the industry recovered.
As the industry begins to climb back out of that trough, these employees are now being relegated to their older higher level positions. This means that the jobs that are available, and there are many of them, are in the entry level positions. For engineering grads with school loans to pay off, this is a disadvantage that discourages them from considering jobs in the energy sector. Toiling in these lower paying jobs, possibly for years as management jobs are seen as rewards for older employees who stayed the course, can mean never emerging from debt.
Looking for Stability
The other factor many see for the industry is this instability in itself. The last time that the industry saw a downturn there were massive layoffs in almost every area of the industry. For a university grad with several high-level degrees and some engineering background, this leaves little incentive to look at the oil industry for work.
Many are starting families, buying their first homes and looking for a stable job environment where they can work there way up. If they don’t see this in the oil and gas industry, there are plenty of other industries that need good software engineers, geological engineers and other related titles and will continue to pay well for them. Unless a company can guarantee that stability, most grads are looking elsewhere to start their career.
Remote Locations a Handicap
While the pay can be astounding when a young engineer takes on a job in a remote location for an oil company or natural gas gig, the price is high as well. Many report having trouble keeping their marriages intact as the emotional toll of working in these remote locations impacts that relationship.
While the goal for many is simply doing the difficult and remote work for a few years to pay off that home mortgage, the cost can sometimes simply be too high. Seeing your family every few weeks, engaging in dangerous behavior on site and becoming addicted to the high-flying lifestyle are all sited as reasons to walk away from this type of work. In the end, family needs to come first.