Oil industry fears over recruitment of its next generation of workers

Two years out of college, Leah Sanders made as much as $ 19,000 a month using oil wells in Kuwait. After being fired in May by oilfield giant Schlumberger Ltd., she returned with her parents to Tennessee, earning $ 15 an hour to help with her father’s construction business. She recently began considering changing careers and going to law school.

“I do not think it will recover as quickly as I hope it would,” said Mrs. Sanders, 24. “Do you want to wait and go back to something you spent two years in training? Or do you want to start over?”

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic, combined with an increasing waste for the oil company among potential young workers, creates a new problem for the sector.

Energy giants, including Chevron Corp. and BP PLC, are trying to prevent a generation gap in their staff – a problem they have experienced in previous declines – that could make it more difficult to change competing industries from sustainable energy and electric cars.

Muqsit Ashraf, who leads the energy practice at consulting firm Accenture PLC, said he often asks energy executives what keeps them up at night. A few years ago, many called the race to secure drilling locations. Now that drivers are staring at a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, it’s “How do I find new talent that I need to invent myself?” Mr Ashraf said.