Manpower is the buzzword in our profession today -- it’s a hot topic in the petroleum industry worldwide, and in the United States it is a very hot topic in Washington, D.C.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) there is a projected shortage of professionals in numerous disciplines due to the retirement of post-World War II “baby boomers” during the next 10 years.
One of the basic concerns for scientific societies is that students are not entering scientific disciplines at the rate needed to fill jobs. This is a problem that starts in the requirements for science in prep schools; geoscience, a truly multi-disciplined science, has seen lower enrollment in many universities in the United States during the past several decades.
For the petroleum industry the shortage of petroleum geologists, geophysicists and engineers already is acute. Although many good schools remain, many petroleum curriculums at schools in the United States and Western Europe have deteriorated during the past 20 years.
Also, there is the continued reluctance of some students to enter into a petroleum career due to the perceived friction between petroleum and the environment. Geologists, by nature, are typically concerned about the environment, so it is important that we do everything possible to dispel this perception.
Numerous government, non-profit and for-profit entities are studying manpower issues. In the United States, AAPG has been asked to support several work force initiatives.
For example, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has initiated a work force study using a contractor “The WorkSource,” an affiliate of the Gulf Coast Work Force Board based in Houston. The API effort is funded by its members. Products prepared by The WorkSource group are currently under review by the API taskforce, which includes AAPG and various corporate entities.
Jim Blankenship, AAPG’s geoscience director, is our representative for this group.
The National Research Council, led by the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, is scoping a study titled “Emerging Work Force Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries.”
The U.S. Department of Labor has initiated work on an Energy Competency Model to be used in designing training programs at all training levels to prepare the work force for work in the energy sector. A number of organizations -- including IPAA, API and AAPG -- have been asked by DOL to contribute their perspectives on the model.
AAPG is supporting the American Geological Institute’s efforts in this area. AAPG also is working with a number of its standing committees to evaluate the manpower issue related to petroleum geology.
Many universities, once again facing an increasing demand for petroleum-related disciplines, are gearing up to develop a new crop of energy professionals.
This is an exciting time and a great opportunity for AAPG members to support and show leadership. I encourage you to contact your alma maters and offer support. AAPG’s Visiting Geoscientists' Program (VGP) is a great way to give back to your school and the VGP program can be offered anywhere in the world (see www.aapg.org for more information on becoming a VGP).
AAPG also is developing PowerPoint presentations and film clips that show the importance and value of a petroleum-related degree. We are specifically developing information to show the high-tech nature of petroleum geoscience.
Manpower is similar to oil in that supply and demand are often related more to geography. In many countries, such as Russia, Eastern Europe, China, India, etc. there are many highly qualified petroleum professionals and students.
I recently visited Moscow and I was impressed with the enthusiasm for the petroleum industry of students from Moscow State and other universities.
The problem is how to unite the supply of young qualified professionals worldwide with demand. AAPG is uniting with other societies to develop student programs and job fairs around the world.
Work force needs are a complex global problem that will not be solved overnight. AAPG is working to provide information, support and programs to help develop new opportunities and professional growth for our members and students.