The big crew change is a mass retirement of older workers and is now a reality in the oil and gas industry. During the oil crash in the 1980’s, the industry was cut down to the bone with a slew of cost cutting layoffs and business bankruptcies. Vigor did not return to the oil and gas industry for another 20 years as Persian Gulf states ramped up production during these decades. In 1999 a half-year OPEC market action caused the oil price to more than double in a year as well as put a bookend on this period.

As oil prices rose again in 2002, it became well known in the oil and gas industry that personnel shortages were looming in the future. As companies began hiring to staff-up their new projects, it was hard not to notice that experienced workers were available but middle aged workers were not. Younger workers started to be courted in order to begin filling the upcoming talent gap. By 2008, the positions were beginning to be filled and hiring started to normalize. That year, however, the economy crashed and oil went with it. By 2011, shale projects had whipped hiring back into a frenzy. The industry boom would be short this time as oil prices plunged in 2014. In one of the worst oil price slumps ever, more than 300,000 workers were laid off.

Now that the slump of 2014 is over, there are few if any excess workers in the industry. Some older workers have already been forced out and many younger workers have left the industry. Oil and gas will once again need to ramp up and soon hiring will be as constrained as it has ever been. What would have been a large changeover has now been compounded by the slump of 2014. Instead of having an excess of young professionals ready to take command, there is now no excess and a long road to ramp back up.

New workers will need specialized training in oil and gas to work effectively and safely. These skills, once developed, are some of the most crucial assets in the oilfield. Time will tell if companies have shot themselves in the foot by letting too much critical talent go or if they have learned from their mistakes and rebound back to where they want to be.

Suggested Training: Texas SafeLand Training

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