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Shale Tycoon Harold Hamm Wants to Lure Gen Z to the Oil Industry

Shale tycoon Harold Hamm and U.S. and European supermajors are looking to support university courses in petroleum engineering and related disciplines in a bid to attract young talent to the industry that’s not viewed favorably by Millennials and Generation Z.   

Harold Hamm, the U.S. shale pioneer who founded Continental Resources, has donated to establish the Hamm Institute for American Energy at Oklahoma State University. At the end of 2021, the Harold Hamm Foundation and Continental Resources announced a combined $50 million gift to create the Hamm Institute for American Energy.   

“We believe in a world where every person has access to the reliable, affordable and sustainable energy they need to thrive,” says Hamm, who is chairman of the Hamm Institute for American Energy.  

Speaking to the Financial Times last week, Hamm said that “We are going to be using oil for the next 50 years and ‘clean burning’ natural gas probably for the next 100 or 150 years.”

“We want to get the next generation of gamechangers involved,” Hamm told FT.

A shortage of skilled workers drove last year inflationary pressures on energy projects in the U.S. and in Texas, along with higher interest rates and higher costs of materials. Some major LNG projects in the Gulf area in Texas could struggle to find enough skilled workers to execute the projects on time and on budget.

“Labor availability is a big issue in blue-collar areas. It is hard to find employees, and wage rate requirements continue to increase,” one executive at an oil and gas support services firm said in comments in the Dallas Fed Energy Survey for the second quarter of 2023.  

Another executive, at an exploration and production (E&P) firm, commented,

“Labor is hard to find. Dirty-fossil-fuels stigma drives younger talent away.”

Some of those who are not driven away by the “dirty business” stigma are being poached by technology firms, data centers, Tesla, SpaceX, and other jobs in computing and engineering.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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