Voice of One Delegate
“Absolutely gorgeous” is all I can say about the weather in the Rockies this past August where I attended my second annual AAPG Leadership conference. Last year I attended as a Delegate to the AAPG, and this year I attended as President of the Dallas Geological Society. Each year I come away from this meeting with armfuls of new ideas, possibilities and programs that could enrich the professional careers of not only the AAPG members that I represent, but the whole of the Dallas Geological Society which has over 600 members. I attended several breakout sessions, including “Petroleum Resources – Peaked or Not Peaked” which outlined the not to distant future oil supply shortage, and “Workforce - Exploring for Future Geoscientists." Although all of the talks and presentations were very informative, the subject of “Future Geoscientists” got my attention, in part, because my youngest daughter is currently studying to become a geoscientist.
Every geologist in the business knows that our workforce is aging, and it is difficult to find entry level professionals. As I listened intently to all the discussion regarding recruitment efforts, teacher of the year awards, scholarships and grants for students, visiting geoscientist program, the K-12 educational programs, distinguished lecturers and other public outreach programs it seems to me that the biggest issue that our profession faces is actually a marketing issue.
We “geologists” don’t advertise.
Nowhere in the public media does one see information or advertisements about careers in the energy industry. I am constantly amazed at the lack of understanding that the general public has regarding the oil and gas industry and how geologist help to produce oil and gas and to help solve the energy supply issues that America will face in the coming decades. There is absolutely a workforce crisis looming for the geoscience profession.
How will we face this challenge? How will the AAPG and affiliated societies face this challenge? How will the American oil and gas industry face this challenge? Do the American people even care?
Two of these questions I can answer relatively concisely:
- The major oil companies are importing geoscience and engineering resources from other countries and
- the American public doesn’t care.
You might ask why the importation of geoscience talent is not a positive thing for the American oil and gas industry, and I would answer that, in itself, it is a good thing. However, if I had a crystal ball and was able to look ten or twenty years into the future and see our industry, I believe I would see that American companies have lost their places as the world’s leaders in oil and gas science, engineering and technology. We may already have lost it.
AAPG is addressing the workforce issue. One of the presentations at the Leadership conference outlined a “Workforce in Energy” program to be implemented by AAPG with a purpose to advocate energy workforce solutions to government, industry and academia and with unique objectives which include reaching out to students, of all ages, to educate them about geoscience, technology and energy. This program will also be tied to a research fund for energy related fields and is sure to be a successful program.
Although the AAPG and the affiliated societies have numerous educational and outreach programs that could have a positive affect on our future workforce needs, there seems to be no comprehensive effort to insure that all of these programs are working together. I propose that the AAPG executive committee form an ad hoc committee to determine if a standing “Marketing Committee” would be beneficial to the workforce cause.
As I see it, the ad hoc committee would work with all other committees, outreach and educational programs that are involved in recruitment or workforce needs to determine how a dedicated marketing program would help get our message out. That message might look like this, “HELP… AMERICA NEEDS YOUR HELP FOR THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF OUR WAY OF LIFE,” but I am not a marketing expert and our industry needs professional marketing help. The ad hoc committee should also be able to work with other societies like SPE, AGI, and SEG to form something like an advertising co-op, not to advertise the importance of the industry, but rather the importance of individual careers and achievement in energy related professional careers. This would naturally lead the ad hoc committee to determine the costs of the marketing program verses the benefits of the program and ultimately to determine if there is a need for a standing committee.
These ideas and opinions are but one delegate's voice. If you have any ideas, suggestions, comments or concerns, please, by all means, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.