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Energy industry in Oklahoma tries to attract young professionals to trade groups

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and other groups are actively recruiting younger members.
by Adam Wilmoth Modified: June 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm •  Published: June 15, 2012

The decade-long oil bust that began in the early 1980s wiped out two generations of energy professionals.

The extended drought scared away existing and prospective workers as other sectors grew.

Improved technology and drilling techniques have created a resurgence in the field in recent years, but the long decline has created staffing challenges for companies throughout the oil patch.

Most exploration and production companies have a strong number of employees in their 50s and older.

Heavy recruiting on college campuses throughout the region has led to a rapidly growing number of employees in their 20s and early 30s.

But few employees fill the 20-year gap in between.

The result is that some young employees with just a few years of experience have quickly advanced to become senior managers. In other cases, quality employees find themselves with managers who are their age or even a few years younger, making career advancement more difficult.

While companies throughout the industry are struggling to meet this challenge, industry trade groups are facing perhaps an even greater challenge.

I attended the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA) annual meeting earlier this month. The organization has been in existence for 57 years and has faced similar challenges as the industry it represents.

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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If you go

The OKC Young Professionals in Energy forum will be July 19 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. For more information and to sign up, go to


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