STEM Education Key to Diversifying America?s Energy Workforce, Study Says

The buzz talk around the power of training in the science, technology, engineering and math fields has extended to the energy workforce, specifically, the oil and natural gas industry. The API (American Petroleum Institute), in partnership with Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, recently released a report indicating that the most lucrative jobs in this sector require a background in one of the STEM disciplines.

The report, released at an event that took place at George Washington University last month, also highlighted opportunities for women and minorities.

“The oil and natural gas industry will experience significant turnover and growth in the years to come, greatly expanding career opportunities for women and communities of color,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “This study shows that STEM education is the key to creating a workforce that reflects the many faces of this great nation with skilled workers of all backgrounds.”

Findings from the report include the following stats:

  • A STEM bachelor’s degree nearly doubles the likelihood of working in the oil and natural gas industry, and earning a degree in an industry specific or related field increases the likelihood of working in the industry by three to seven times.
  • STEM skills are important at every education level. It is estimated that nearly half of all STEM jobs do not require a four-year degree and that a third of all STEM jobs are in blue collar occupations. This is especially significant in the natural gas and oil industry, where more than one million blue collar job opportunities are projected through 2035.
  • Almost without exception, across all education levels, degree majors, gender, race, ethnicity and occupation types, those who work in the oil and natural gas industry earn more than those who do not.

The report further finds that 1.9 million new job opportunities are projected through 2035, with almost 707,000 job opportunities that are projected to be filled by minorities and more than 290,000 anticipated to be filled by women.

“This report will help shape government and education policies that will expand job opportunities and economic development for communities of color,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “The study clearly shows that STEM education can be a primary driver of employment opportunities and economic mobility, especially as the economy evolves over the next decade. Energy is a growing sector, and it is critical that the future energy workforce reflect the diversity of our nation.”

As for millennials, in 2015 they accounted for 34 percent of direct industry employment, a share that is projected to rise to 41 percent over the next decade.

For more information about STEM, pick up the Winter 2017 edition of The Network Journal, due out mid-December.