2023IADC, Regulation, and LegislationMarch/AprilSafety and ESG

Next-gen engagement and enthusiasm continue to flourish

From Jason McFarland, IADC President

Attracting and retaining new talent for the industry’s workforce is not a new topic, yet it is a highly resonant one. That’s no surprise – drilling contractors will continue to drill for vital resources for the world to use, and that is only possible because of the people behind the operations. 

The US Energy Information Administration is projecting that, while renewable energy may be the fastest-growing source, petroleum and natural gas will remain the most-consumed sources of energy in the US through 2050. In order to continue meeting the world’s rising energy demands, we must ensure that our workforce is plentiful and prepared. 

The needs of the younger workforce are shifting; it’s critical that we meet them where they are and inform them of the importance of what we do. In the last issue of this magazine, Subodh Saxena, Senior VP at Nabors Industries, said it well: “The cultural change involves understanding who today’s workers are and recognizing that we have to transform ourselves and move toward them.” 

How do we do this? How do we understand the professional expectations of the up-and-coming workforce, and then ensure that we’re living up to those expectations? I think the best way is to go directly to the source – to engage with these young professionals as early as possible in their careers with as much earnestness and authenticity as possible. 

I view this as a mutually beneficial relationship. Drilling contractors and established energy professionals have knowledge, resources and ample opportunities to offer. Similarly, I believe the younger workforce can provide innovation, new perspectives and ingenuity. 

IADC has been constructing a pathway for interested young professionals, beginning with our Student Chapter program. It allows students to participate in the industry and start building their professional networks before they even graduate from college. 

The number of participating schools has grown from four at the start of 2019 to 14 now, and we’re anticipating the addition of two to three new Student Chapters over the next year, working toward the ultimate goal of 20 participating schools. 

Since the inception of the Student Chapter program, IADC has sponsored more than 900 students to attend our international conferences. David “D.J.” LaRosa, Chairman of the IADC Marietta College Student Chapter, attended our Annual General Meeting for the first time in November. In a DrillBits article about the event, D.J. stated, “We were able to make connections with our parents’ generations and our own generation, which, in my opinion, is a rare experience to get in college. I wholeheartedly believe that the conference benefitted my future career. I have more business cards from this conference than every other conference I have attended in college combined. I feel like I made real connections with people that could last a lifetime.” 

Connections are a vital part of business and a valuable component of the Student Chapter program. In fact, many of the connections and opportunities provided to Student Chapters are only possible because of IADC members. For example, 14 students from Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette were recently invited to participate in an event hosted by Patterson-UTI. The students had a phenomenal time touring a rig and learning about different aspects of rig life. During the event, Smith Mason & Co, which is heavily involved in hosting IADC-accredited training for UL-Lafayette students, connected with students from UT and discussed a similar partnership to prepare them for entering the workforce.    

The next step in the career pathway includes encouraging recent graduates and young professionals to join IADC committees or to become involved in other ways that speak to them.

The IADC Young Professionals (YP) Committee provides opportunities for those new in their careers to engage with the IADC community, and there are plans to further increase the committee’s scope this year. This is evidenced in part by the recently added subcommittees and expanded leadership positions within the committee. They are planning to offer a variety of occasions for networking and an increased number of “Luncheon with Leaders” events, along with a new series of professional development webinars. 

In the past year, we’ve witnessed the formation of two new YP Subcommittees under the branches of IADC Regional Chapters in South Central Asia and Australasia. These YP Subcommittees have been offering occasions for networking and connecting YPs with established industry experts in these regions. 

All of this makes me believe that interest and eagerness are both alive and well within the younger workforce. I see specific examples of individuals stepping up to volunteer their time, to pay it forward with their efforts in areas they’re passionate about. These individuals are representative of a broader workforce, one that is plentiful and prepared for today’s energy demands and those of the future.

Our role is to teach them about the importance of what we do and why it’s necessary, to inform them of the opportunities available, and to provide a clear pathway for them in this industry. It’s our job to show them who we are and how much we care about the same things they care about – working with purpose, seeking solutions to complex issues, acting as respectful stewards of the environment, and leaving the world a slightly better and safer place than we found it.  DC 

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