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Shifting oilfield workforces: From Boomers to Millennials

Interested in observing how multiple generations are working together? Then, get thee to an oilfield where you’ll find Baby Boomers (b. ‘46-’65), Generation Xers (b. ’66-’80) and Millennials (b.’80-2000) working in tandem. This may sound rather harmonious, but every generation has its gripes about the other. The advent of technology has left the most distinguishable impression that accounts for differences between generations. Unless you’re a Generation Xer, then MTV is to blame.

According to the Permian Basin Oil & Gas Magazine, the 80’s oil crash is accountable for the 15 year age gap between the two most significant populations in the workforce.  That gap represents more than mere numbers, it marks important attitude differences regarding work as well as actual job skills.

It’s no secret that Baby Boomers and Millennials differ in their job expectations and values. Boomers value loyalty and a hard work ethic. They work long hours as easily as they butter a piece of toast. Loyalty feeds the work ethic as pensions were common back in the day. Millennials prefer flexibility and working less. This can be interpreted as laziness but that’s far from the truth. They’d rather spend their time participating in more communal activities. Oftentimes, Millennials appear less loyal to companies, however, with the invention of transportable 401Ks and pensions declining, it’s in their best interest to switch companies as needed to further their career.

President and owner of Prima Consulting, Elaine Cullen, pointed out two major observable deficiencies in the youngest generation, first the lack of basic hand tool skills. She pointed out that this younger generation sometimes can’t distinguish a screwdriver from a hammer. Cullen said, “That’s a big issue when you are working in a skilled blue collar industry. Those are the tools of their trade,” as reported by Permian Basin Oil & Gas Magazine.

In related news, Energy Industry: The Great Crew Change.

Secondly, the lack of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. She links the problem to elementary education teachers not caring or grasping these skills enough to teach and pass them along to their students.

It’s not only the Boomers who struggle with the generation gap. Millennials have their own struggles with the Boomer way as well. According to Trenegy, “Millennials find the traditional training approach of spending weeks participating in classroom activities and months’ working in the office under Boomer mentors a waste of time. As a result, trained Millennials quickly get frustrated and leave for other opportunities with more autonomy and freedom.” As digital natives, Millennials have instant ease with seeking information digitally and can feel that the Boomer approach to instruction is not only tedious but a time waster.

Generational gaps are here to stay. There’s even already an attempt to name and define the post-Millennial generation (16-19 year olds). “New Silents,” “Generation Z,” and “Homeland Generation” are among the top name contenders according to Futurist Consultant, Anne Boysen. Boysen also pointed out that preliminary surveys suggest that being “realistic, home-oriented and embrac(ing of) universal healthcare” are some of the characteristics that may come to define post-Millennials.


  1. This is really dumb not true at all

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