Too Few Engineers Hurts Energy Industry

The high profile push to double the number of math,
science and engineering majors is falling short of
the mark.

Rod Rice reports that has significant implications for
the energy industry.

A recent study found that the effort saw some gains earlier in the decade, but in recent years the number of graduating math, science and engineering students has leveled off. That is not insignificant to the energy industry. Mike Krenek is with Deloitte Oil and Gas here in Houston, and he says there are limits to what can be done without enough scientists and engineers on staff.

“Projects are slowed down. Good projects might not start for several years because better projects push them back.”

Krenek says the oil and gas industry suffers from an image which does not help attract young people, but it’s trying to address that problem.  It’s going into college, high school and even elementary schools to get kids interested in math, science and engineering.  But Krenek says even though oil and gas is cutting edge, it’s a relatively conservative industry that doesn’t what to change the way it recruits.

“I think one thing that the industry hasn’t quite changed yet is the willingness to be more flexible when they bring people on. They still believe that, look, we have been very successful in how we’ve done things, so trust us and you come into our mold. More young people say, no, I’m not going to go with my father’s model of business.”

He says young people today want more flexibility in their careers and if you don’t offer it they won’t come.

And it’s not just energy; the lack of scientists and engineers crosses the industry spectrum means those who are in the field have a lot of bargaining power in where they work.