Oil & Gas Industry's Labor Crunch Worsening

A shortage of skilled workers in the oil and gas industry is getting worse. That's the finding of a new survey by human resources consultancy Mercer.

Mercer published its first survey on the labor needs of the energy sector in 2006. Even then, oil and gas companies were raising concerns that not enough skilled workers were entering the industry to make up for those approaching retirement.

This second survey finds that, in the eight years since, the shortage of skilled workers has only grown worse. Philip Tenenbaum is a senior partner in Mercer’s Houston office.

“In the key job groups — and those would include, for example petroleum engineers — up to 50% of the people in those jobs are within five years of retirement eligibility.”

Tenenbaum says the increasing labor shortage is partly the result of greater demand for skilled workers, thanks to the takeoff in domestic production. But he also says companies are spending far more to attract skilled workers from their competitors than to train new workers or retain the ones they have. Tenenbaum says that, over the long term, such an approach is not sustainable.

Mercer will release the survey’s findings at the end of January.

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Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...