Fossil fuels are out. At least according to the younger generations. Neither millennials nor their up-and-coming counterparts, the zoomers, or Gen Z, are particularly interested in working in the oil and gas industry. And it’s causing big problems for Big Oil, which is becoming increasingly desperate for fresh scientific talent. Simply put, the youth is just not that into it. But that doesn’t mean they're not interested in the energy sector at all. In fact, renewable energy and green technologies are wildly popular among them.
Accounting for nearly half of the population of the United States, millennials and Gen Z are playing an important role in the energy transition. As per a recent study from Morning Consult, over half of the zoomers polled think that climate change can be slowed - and they want to help.
According to the survey, respondents are most interested in working in the solar and wind industries, followed by hydropower and nuclear respectively, while natural gas and coal jobs garnered little interest from the group.
“When Gen Zers do look to the future, it seems that participating in sectors whose emissions contribute to climate change holds little appeal,” the report states.
One participant noted, “We are only a small component of the system. That’s not to say we’re not important but our impact on shifting climates are negligible.”
And it’s not just jobs that are catching the attention of the younger generations. Their desire to build a better world is being reflected in their investments, as well.
According to a recent study by the deVere Group, nearly 8 out of 10 millennial investors are choosing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as a priority when picking new investments. While it may be a trend spurred by increased millennial activism, it’s something that investors can no longer afford to ignore.
“We’re in the middle of a $30 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer from baby boomers to their children,” says Dave Nadig of ETF.com. “And those kids—not really millennials only, but people from 25 to 40 years old– simply think about their investment decisions differently.”
Indeed, the trend is becoming so massive that even some of the world’s largest banks and funds are shifting their own priorities to accommodate this growing demand for sustainable investments. From Blackrock to Goldman Sachs, the giants of the industry are pouring billions into this growing trend, and those who are not could even risk underperformance as the trend accelerates.
Millennial Robinhood traders have piled into sustainable stocks like Tesla and the tech giants fueling a global renewables boom and that’s unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
Though the youth has turned its back on Big Oil, the energy industry is not down for the count just yet. In order to stay afloat, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the supermajors of yesteryear will have to adapt or die. If they want new talent or the next generation’s capital, they’ll have to start considering what young people really want.