The great white shark must keep moving or else it dies. It has to keep oxygen-rich water constantly flowing through its lungs.
Within modern business, technology has become a vital element that any business needs to survive and remain top of the food chain.
So, who better to employ within your organisation than those who grew up with that technology?
It’s a generation for whom the low hum of a computer hard drive is as familiar as the sound of their mother’s voice.
Within the oil industry, fears that it might struggle to attract the best of the age group who reached adulthood around the year 2000 have been growing.
Ryan Jenkins, writer and commentator on the subject of Millennials, said: “Technology and the internet are arguably the biggest disruptors in history. It’s changed how we live, work, and play. No individual or industry is immune to its disruptive power.
“To make matters more disruptive, the internet, mobile technology, and social media all converged on the largest generation on the planet during Millennials’ influential years and during a phase of life when they could experiment with new innovations.
“The catalyst for change is not solely Millennials, but rather their ubiquitous connectivity – made possible by the internet and mobile technology – coupled with Millennials, which has and will continue to be the recipe for massive change and disruption for years to come.”
Does the oil and gas sector have the will for the fight?
Monika Ziaber, account manager with Aberdeen supply chain firm Achilles, thinks that while the industry has struggled in the past, there is a real will to change from the tired image of rich men in suits.
As a woman, an immigrant and a Millennial she’s a perfect candidate to ruminate on the current situation within the industry. She still sees some of the problems of the past but is optimistic about the industry’s ability to modernise.
She said: “Is there a war on talent? I’d say that it probably ties more in with a war on innovation. Everybody wants innovation in their business right now. I think what happened to the industry in the last few years was negative in general but positive in terms of it being a good wakeup call for people and organisations. They seemed to realise themselves that maybe we’d been doing things wrong.
“It’s a time for change and I can see that in the way companies are going, there’s a lot of restructuring going on. I think there’s a lot of ‘out with the old, in with the new’ happening out there.”
There are numerous concerns around attracting young people into an industry which for better or worse seems not to belong to their time.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) ran a SuperBowl ad this year highlighting the various ways oil is used, for example, the making of lipstick and prosthetics and its applications in space exploration, proclaiming it to be: “Not Your Daddy’s Oil”.
The issue was addressed recently by Peterhead Academy, which offers an Energy course as an extra National 5. Chelsea Duncan took the course as an S3 student through the Girls into Energy programme, sponsored by Shell.
The course allowed her to learn about a number of energy sectors and visit different sites.
Chelsea, now a fourth year student, is like many young people looking at her future career options. Though her mother and teacher might feel that oil and gas is a viable sector for her to move into, there is the sense that things have moved on, that oil and gas might not be as progressive as other sectors. It’s an issue no amount of clever advertising can eradicate.
Chelsea said: “I wanted to look at the different energy sectors to see if there were any future careers there that I could possibly get into. I think it’s quite exciting with new technologies like wind turbines in renewable energy – that really is the way forward. I’m interested more in that side because that seems to be the future, where there’s a real push forward. There’s a lot more to explore in that sector.”
Mr Jenkins believes industry must innovate in the way it approaches young people.
He said: “Previous generations learned to keep silent about the change they wanted, but Millennials are vocalising the change they want. Change and the shift to employee experience will accelerate when Millennials account for 50% of the global workforce by 2020. More experience-seeking Millennials in the workplace means a shift to experience-centric organisations will be needed in order to attract, retain, and engage the Millennial worker.
“To contend in tomorrow’s talent war, employers in the oil and gas industry must rethink and re-engineer how to deliver a signature experience for its greatest asset – people.”
Ms Ziaber thinks investment in technology might be the key to attracting the brightest from her age group. She’s seeing it implemented right now within her company. She said: “Our company has certainly gone through a revamp of ‘coolness’. We’ve got new branding and all those internal systems that we use, there’s social media involved. Internally we’ve got systems for social interaction where we can give each other ‘likes’ for completing projects. I think a lot of that is definitely targeted at young people. Our managers are all involved with it but this is clearly not their generation’s stuff, this is for my generation and younger.”