A couple of the main points in API President and CEO Jack Gerard’s speech to the STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference in Washington this week:

  • America’s oil and natural gas industry offers the careers to attract motivated science, technology, engineering and math graduates – and it needs them.
  • Industry’s dynamic job-creating ability must be sustained through strategies and policies that allow it to continue to be a global energy leader.

jack_stem_podiumKudos to U.S. News & World Report for hosting the conference that attracted so many bright young people – including one of the youngest people to visit the North and South Pole and a teen-ager who developed an early detection test for pancreatic cancer. Gerard used the opportunity to underscore the oil and natural gas industry’s need for science and technology workers.

Gerard noted an IHS report projecting that by 2030 there will be up to 1.3 million new jobs in the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries. Of those, more than 400,000 or roughly one-third will go to African-American and Hispanic workers. Women will fill about 185,000 of those jobs.  As for STEM jobs, a significant number of new workers will be needed to fill existing jobs over the next decade when about half of industry’s current technical personnel will retire. Gerard:

Bottom line, we need to increase the number of STEM graduates to ensure that we have a workforce capable of continuing America’s 21st century energy renaissance. … It is my sense that there is deep understanding of what’s at stake: Continued American global leadership. Specifically, in the energy sector, the need to improve minority educational attainment in STEM subjects will be vital to our nation taking full advantage of its enormous energy resources.”

Gerard said the U.S. ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering. He called for policies that promote STEM education from grade school to graduate school – which will help the U.S. continue to lead the world in energy production.

Where industry is concerned, he said, educators and guidance counselors must let students know about the “significant job opportunities that exist” in the oil and natural gas business. At the same time the U.S. energy renaissance must continue to grow so that industry can continue creating jobs. Increased access to domestic energy reserves, a common-sense approach to regulation and policies that encourage investment are needed. Gerard:

“Future generations are counting on us to implement policies that promote educational achievement, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math because it will largely be those subjects that determine who will benefit most in the 21st century. And while the future belongs to our children and grandchildren, their future depends on us. It depends on all of us putting into place policies that ensure that tomorrow’s workforce is ready and able to meet whatever challenges await them.”

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