We’ve reported on it before. Even as the oil industry was cratering in 2016, trucking was eagerly poaching workers from an industry in peril. This isn’t a bad thing, of course. These good people need jobs and trucking is here to give it to them.
As the economy continues to improve and freight options rise, the job prospects are looking increasingly pleasant for displaced energy workers. Let’s take a deeper look at how industry employment is panning out and the opportunities afforded to displaced energy workers looking for jobs.
A Downturn and Upturn
Although there’s been a two-year downturn in the oil and gas industry, there are plenty of opportunities downstream from these jobs, including in trucking. Jobs available to former energy workers run the gamut.
Whether one is looking to be a truck driver or go back to school for a two-year degree, job opportunities abound. With a slowdown in the energy upstream, jobs down the line have an opportunity to play catch up.
But what has spurred the change? With the large drop in natural gas prices and a huge abundance of supply in the market, the energy sector has seen tens of thousands of energy-related jobs essentially evaporate.
According to recent labor statistic numbers, in one year the U.S. energy sector contracted by a full 18 percent. That represents a peak of over 852,000 jobs in 2014 down to just under 700,000 in 2016.
While the oil-and-gas industry does suffer from cyclical supply and demand, a huge number of retirements has left the industry needing to fill 5,000 openings, with very few qualified workers to be found.
Still, things are turning around, especially where trucking employment is concerned. Could it be that as the United States becomes more energy independent, job gains will actually increase?
Consider that industry like pharma, fertilizer, plastics and other industrial and manufacturing-related industries still rely on their goods to get from one place to another and it’s not hard to see where the jobs are.
With trucking not going anywhere anytime soon, jobs are plenty. Fleets across the country are looking for truck drivers. And when you can reliably get a commercial driver’s license in five weeks, it isn’t hard to imagine a displaced energy worker finding their new home in a cab.
Many out-of-work energy sector workers are finding that government grants exist to help them find a new home in a different profession. One such government-funded scholarship program covers the cost of retraining for coal miners and other energy workers who have lost their jobs.
The fact is, a growing number of workers who once worked in coal, oil or gas, and found themselves at the wrong end of an economic downturn are finding a home in trucking. These people come from good-paying jobs. This ripple effect has been felt across the industry.
For those looking to go back to school, a waiting list may greet them when they try to qualify for scholarship money. Yet, the trucking industry awaits, with plenty of jobs in the wings.
With a huge number of companies waiting in line for qualified workers, displaced energy employees can easily find a new home in trucking. And with the trucking industry struggling to find truck drivers, the downturn in energy may be the upturn trucking is looking for.
While some say there may be a looming problem if the economy gets too hot, goods and services will need to be moved for a long time to come, and there may be no better type of person to haul those services than former oil and gas workers.