Oil and Gas Workforce Needs in the 21st Century


Ensuring secure global oil and natural gas supplies requires a qualified and well-trained domestic and international oil and gas workforce. The petroleum industry is increasingly aware that this workforce may not be available in the future to meet its needs and government institutions and agencies dealing with oil and gas issues face a similar possible shortage of qualified staff. This will have serious ramifications for U.S. and global energy security.


There are currently two major challenges to maintaining a qualified and trained petroleum workforce. First, the demographics of current workers, as measured by labor statistics, point to a wave of retirements in the next ten years. Second, there is a shortage of qualified workers to replace them. This is reflected in low student enrollments in university geosciences and petroleum engineering programs. Attitudinal surveys suggest low student interest in pursuing a career in oil and natural gas. The shortage spans the entire workforce, from geoscientists and engineers to well-site employees and service company personnel.

  • AAPG supports federal action to enhance geoscience and engineering training and education, beginning in primary and secondary school and continuing through undergraduate and graduate education.
  • AAPG supports a strong federal research and development program in energy, science, and engineering to provide essential research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • AAPG supports vocational training and safety programs to ensure safe and reliable delivery of energy to U.S. and world markets.
  • AAPG supports government immigration policies that enhance the ability of technical professionals and highly skilled workers to move across borders for employment.
  • AAPG encourages industry to create opportunities for employees who are of retirement age to remain in the workforce and also to create educational programs to increase student awareness and interest in the energy, science, and engineering professions.

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Energy Policy Office

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David Curtiss Executive Director +1 918 560 2639