The old oil-field "rough and tumble" spirit that bonded and kept oilfield workers on edge in the past, will no longer suffice.
After two years of downturn in the oil and gas business, things appear to be turning around again, leaving companies scrambling for workers and wondering if those they have let go will return.
At the end of each cycle, about 30 percent of the workers who lose their jobs don't come back, according to Tony Angelle, a vice president with Halliburton. His company is thinking about ways to attract talent now that activity is picking up again after a two-year slump.
They "don't want anything to do with the oil and gas business," he said at the Developing Unconventional Gas East conference in Pittsburgh in June, reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
New technology and equipment, digitization, big data -- they all require a different skill set and may be the reason that 81 percent of oil and gas CEOs surveyed by Ernst & Young earlier this year said the industry will need to rebuild its workforce with more educated, higher skilled workers over the next decade.
It also will need to overcome an image problem. That same study and another by Deloitte found that younger generations were turned off by the prospect of oil and gas.
"They primarily see the industry's careers as unstable, blue-collar, difficult, dangerous and harmful to society," Ernst & Young wrote. "Perhaps most concerning, more than two out of every three teens believe the oil and gas industry causes problems rather than solves them."
The surveys showed another generational disconnection. While CEOs thought that salary and the ability to work with cutting-edge technology would be at the top of the list for young employees, young workers who were surveyed placed a much greater emphasis on work-life balance, happiness at work and stability than did their potential bosses.
Part of accommodating that shift is recognizing that the old oil-field culture, that "rough and tumble" spirit that both bonded and kept oilfield workers on edge in the past, will no longer suffice.