New Mexico State University held a conference on Thursday that brought together students, educators, and government representatives along with industry professionals from New Mexico and West Texas to discuss opportunities for Latinos, African-Americans, and Women in the energy industry.
The event was part of a series of talks that the organizations Hispanics in Energy and The American Association of Blacks in Energy have been holding across the country.
José Pérez, Chair and CEO, Hispanics in Energy says the community is represented more in the blue collar jobs, but better education is needed for Hispanics to obtain more management and skilled positions.
“The representation is better in the entry level jobs; the blue collar jobs. But, as they get in the highly-technical (jobs) and some of them (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math the number drops. So, that means that we have a tremendous challenge to get them better educated as a community,” says Pérez.
Speakers at the conference mentioned that with “Baby Boomers” retiring there will be a major void to fill in the energy field, opening up more roles in the industry for women and minorities.
Paula Jackson, CEO of The American Association of Blacks in Energy says she is encouraged by steps the industry is taking to recruit more women and minorities to enter the energy field, but she also says it is important to also have better representation in the government positions as decision makers.
“We know that the industry is not reflected of our community, so one of the things that we do is try to look at this industry as an opportunity for their families, for a middle class life if that’s what they desire. We try to encourage government leadership to try to appoint people to positions that reflect our community as well,” says Jackson.
At the event J. Michael Treviño, Advisor to the American Petroleum Institute presented a report by IHS Global, Inc. that gave projections of minority and female employment in the Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Industries. The report projected that by 2030; there will be over 1.3 million direct job opportunities in the energy industry.
“The top of the pyramid are the jobs that we call STEM jobs, but 63 percent of the jobs and these are skilled and semi-skilled jobs,” says Treviño.
The study also projects African American and Hispanic workers will account for 408,000 of those jobs, with 20 percent being management, business, and financial job opportunities.
According to the study women could account for 185,000 of the projected jobs, sharing in skilled areas such as petroleum engineers, managers, and other professional roles.
Presenters at the conference stressed that in order for women and minorities to have the best opportunity to advance in the energy industry; more will need to have four-year degrees in STEM Education.