All Energy Solar

Why Oil Industry Workers Are Migrating to Jobs in Renewable Energy

Jobs in the oil industry have been on a somewhat steady decline over the last few years, with roughly 700,000 fewer workers in the industry in 2022  than just six years earlier. This jobs trend was dramatically accelerated in 2020 when the global pandemic hit and the oil industry laid off nearly 160,000 workers nationwide. A decline of this nature during a worldwide event like a pandemic may seem predictable; however, when contrasted with employment in the renewable energy industry, which has grown 20 percent from 2016 to 2021 to more than 113,000 workers, it’s hard to dismiss that a dramatic shift is underway. 

Jobs in the oil industry have been on a somewhat steady decline over the last few years, with roughly 700,000 fewer workers in the industry in 2022  than just six years earlier. This jobs trend was dramatically accelerated in 2020 when the global pandemic hit and the oil industry laid off nearly 160,000 workers nationwide. A decline of this nature during a worldwide event like a pandemic may seem predictable; however, when contrasted with employment in the renewable energy industry, which has grown 20 percent from 2016 to 2021 to more than 113,000 workers, it’s hard to dismiss that a dramatic shift is underway.  

Changing landscape. Changing opinions. 

A recent New York Times story  noted, 

“In more than a dozen interviews, energy workers and executives said they had switched to renewable energy because they felt that the oil and gas industry’s best days were behind it. Others said they were no longer willing to tolerate the extreme ups and downs of oil and gas prices, and the accompanying cycle of rapid hiring followed by crushing layoffs. Many said concerns about climate change, which is primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels, were a factor in their decision.” 

Slow to recover

As the oil industry, and fossil fuels in general, has been slow to recover to pre-pandemic numbers, renewable energy has seen continuous and steady growth, helping to drive employment numbers ever higher. 

Steady work

For decades, the oil and gas industry has been driven by dramatic shifts in supply and demand, creating uncertainty and volatility in the job market. In contrast, jobs in the renewable energy sector have been far more steady, which has begun to attract workers from the oil industry that have grown tired of the fluctuations in employment status.

Good business

Seeing trends and getting out in front of them is one of the most effective ways for a business to stay relevant, and the energy sector is no exception. Over the last few years, renewable energy has continued to outpace traditional fossil fuels. According to the Renewable Market Report, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric are predicted to make up 95 percent of the increase in global power capacity by 2027. This uptick in production is a signal to many in the industry that the jobs market is shifting in a different direction. 

Rising opportunities

When looking across the entire power sector, it might be hard to believe, but there are far more job opportunities available in renewable energy than in the oil industry.  According to U.S. Energy & Employment Jobs Report (USEER), in 2021, energy jobs grew 4 percent from 2020, outpacing overall U.S. employment, which climbed 2.8 percent in the same time period. The energy sector added more than 300,000 jobs, increasing the total number of energy jobs from 7.5 million in 2020 to more than 7.8 million in 2021. This job growth was largely driven by jobs in clean energy industries, especially solar, wind, and electric vehicles.

To learn more about jobs in solar energy, check out our recent blog, Are Jobs Available in the Solar Industry?  Or, if you’d like to learn even more, download our eBook Solar Jobs.

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