Analysis of SPE Membership age distribution reveals under-representation of those younger than 35 years and the average age approaching 50 years. Assuming this is representative of the global E &P industry, a large portion of the current industry workforce will retire within the next 10 years. It follows that attracting and retaining young people is a key strategy today for tomorrow's successes.

The "big crew change" indicates the risk of a significant reduction of available E &P expertise available. Meanwhile, producing oil and gas fields are maturing and new finds are more complex to locate and develop. This means personnel will need to develop a larger cross-disciplinary skills base with each individual skill advancing to address the increasing complexity of operation. The development of young people should be carefully planned within E &P companies, since young professionals represent a vital asset and a major source of competitive advantage in the future.

Maintaining young professionals' motivation and favouring their pro-activeness should achieve continuous growth, excellent performance and dedication to the industry. Existing E &P expertise plays a crucial role. Experienced personnel need to be actively involved in mentoring-coaching programs to facilitate and drive skills' development in newer industry entrants. Organizations who do not pursue an agenda for speedy and comprehensive professional and technical development of their young employees risk their ability to follow future market trends. Such organizations will likely fail to maintain competitive innovation and change.

The paper describes the importance of young professionals in the E &P industry today, offering suggestions on the delicate theme of retention, motivation, performance, empowerment, and specialist versus cross-discipline skills development. Results from various international surveys of the comments of both young, and experienced, professionals are presented.

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