Booming Energy Sector Pushing for More Minority Employment

WASHINGTON – Energy industry representatives urged members of Congress to promote and educate women and minorities on the new job opportunities being created in the United States due to the ongoing boom in the energy sector.

According to a report by IHS Global, opportunities in the oil, gas, and petrochemicals industries are projected to grow over the next 20 years, driven by capital investment projects and job replacements for retiring baby boomers.

The report projects a total of nearly 1.3 million job opportunities over the 2010-2030 period.

Almost half of these jobs are occupations classified as skilled and semi-skilled blue-collar occupations, benefiting workers with a high school diploma and some post-secondary education. About one-fourth of the jobs would be in scientific and managerial positions.

African-Americans and Latinos will account for nearly one-third of these jobs in 2030. IHS also projected that African-American and Hispanic workers could make up nearly 20 percent of the management, business and financial job opportunities.

African-American and Latino workers accounted for 8 percent and 15 percent of total employment in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors in 2010, respectively.

Women accounted for 19 percent of jobs in the industry in 2010 and filled nearly one-third of the jobs added in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas segment during the first quarter of 2013. The report estimates that by 2030 the industry could add 185,000 more women to its ranks.

“Everyone can benefit from the expanded development of America's energy and mineral resources and Congress should continue to advance policies that promote an all-of-the-above energy strategy for our nation,” Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said at a hearing recently.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) said that the report, which was financed by the American Petroleum Institute, was just an advocacy piece for more drilling and argued that “more drilling would create more jobs and some of those jobs would go to minorities and women.”

“The largest job numbers in the report require a future where we’ve allowed new offshore drilling in the Atlantic and the Pacific, where we’ve removed restrictions on drilling in the lower 48…and it’s premised on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Holt said. “This looks like the same argument we’ve heard in other guises over and over again in this committee room. But this time is in the guise of focusing on certain demographics.”

Holt suggested that Congress should focus on how to get more diversity in the energy sector, particularly in managerial and professional positions.

Lynne Hackedorn, vice president of government and public affairs at Cobalt International Energy, told the panel it is very important for the nation to encourage young people, including women and minorities, to consider careers in the energy sector because of the stable and well-paid opportunities it offers.

Because of technological innovations in deep-water exploration and the new access to such areas in recent years, many jobs have been created in the last 10 years, which is often overlooked in the debate surrounding the energy industry, Hackedorn said.

Many of the panelists shared their stories of success in the energy sector and the challenges they faced as women and minorities.

Hackedorn started her career as a secretary for an oil and gas company. After completing a college degree, she worked as an onshore and offshore landman before climbing at Cobalt from secretary to vice president.