In the mid-eighties Generation X was just starting to trickle into the workforce. Concurrently, the oil industry was starting to enter another cyclical downturn. Fairly impossible to discern at the time, that synchronicity led to profound, far-reaching consequences.
Generation X, roughly defined as those born between 1965 and before 1980, presented a dilemma to businesses at large. Departing significantly from prevailing norms, they pursued work-life balance, flexibility, and independence. The most noteworthy aspect, though, was what they did not have: sufficient numbers to replace equivalent age demographics that they would eventually replace. Coupled with the economic downturns in the oil industry at the time, this posed double jeopardy: not only did we present a bleak and unattractive image, but we were also unable to open our doors to very many aspiring entrants. Resulting hiring deficits in the oil industry lasted for over a decade, and manifests now as the "Big Crew Change" as experts have called it. A challenge to the industry as a whole, it also translates into an unprecedented set of exciting opportunities for the latest incumbents, Generation Y.
Roughly classified as the age demographic born between 1980 and 1999, Generation Y is being looked upon as the "bridge material" to not only fill the gaps in the workforce caused by the Generation X population deficit, but to also act as the conduit for transfer of knowledge and experience as Traditionalists and Baby Boomers continue to retire or approach retirement. Success in this transition is a strategic imperative for the industry today. There are many aspects of potential change that must be examined to ensure sustainable influx and retention of Generation Y workers. This analysis explores key opportunities for change in the industry, along with the pivotal role that Generation X can play in this evolution of the oilfield workforce.