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Overview of the Current and Future Workforce

Information on this page is largely derived from data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), and from a National Academy of Science report, Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action.

Employment Statistics from 2010 to 2020

Some highlights from Bureau of Labor Statistics data:

The Aging Workforce and Coming Shortfall of Employees

"An adequate supply of capable and creative scientists and engineers from universities is an essential component of any strategy to ensure that the United States remains an international leader in technology. Scientists and engineers provide much of the innovation from which high- quality products and jobs can develop to keep the U.S. competitive in the global marketplace. Currently, the United States is failing to meet this challenge."

From Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action (2013), by the National Academy of Science

According to the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), "the majority of geoscientists in the workforce are within 15 years of retirement age," and the number of younger employees is only half of the number of those approaching retirement. Estimates for the petroleum industry indicate an expected shortfall of 13,000 unfilled jobs by 2030. Moreover, the aging of the workforce represents a potential for a critical loss of technical knowledge, skill and experience. AGI data indicates "about 12% of today's geoscientists are expected to retire by 2018, meaning that net job availability for geoscientists in the United States should have increased between 2008 and 2018 by around 35%" (from AGI Status of the Geoscience Workforce and Perkins, 2011).

In a 2013 report on the energy and mining industries, the National Academies of Sciences reports that the current pipeline of students and workers with strong STEM skills will not be adequate to fill the needs of the workforce in these fields. The report cites that poor preparation of high school students in STEM disciplines, high dropout rates, and lack of alternative pathways to high school graduation are reinforcing the problem. A potential shortage of faculty underscores the risk of losing the capacity to train new students for careers in energy and mining (NAS, 2013).

International growth is also expected to add to the need for qualified geoscientists. "Rapid economic expansion in India, China and the rest of the developing world is expected to boost international demand for geoscience graduates. Highly skilled geoscientists will be needed to help identify and develop oil, gas and mineral resources, as well as to help recognize and ameliorate natural and manmade environmental hazards in these developing markets" (Perkins, 2011).


American Geosciences Institute, AGI Geoscience Workforce Program Reports

Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Occupational Outlook for Geoscientists
Occupational Outlook for Environmental Specialists
Occupational Outlook for Hydrologists

Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action (2013), by the National Academy of Science, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources. Findings and Recommendations (pdf) of this report.

Perkins, Sid, 2011, Geosciences: Earth works, Nature 473, 243-244. doi:10.1038/nj7346-243a. Published online May 11, 2011.

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