Misalignment with Gen Z’s values means natural resources companies risk losing future talent

Misalignment with Gen Z’s values means natural resources companies risk losing future talent

Nearly half (42%) of natural resources organisations say they find it difficult to attract and retain early career professionals as Generation Z turns away from the traditional natural resources sector.

Natural resources businesses around the globe are finding it increasingly difficult to encourage a new generation into the workforce and need to do more to align their recruitment strategies with Generation Z’s¹ expectations and aspirations, according to new research by the global accounting and business advisory organisation, BDO.

The global survey captures 757 perspectives on the natural resources industry. It comprises viewpoints from 267 natural resources industry leaders, 234 school students and 256 university students across Australia, Canada, Latin America, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The research finds that Gen Z’s attitudes towards their career is characterised by ‘cautious altruism’. They make pragmatic career decisions based on personal concerns such as job security, career progression and recognition for work delivered. These three factors are rated important or essential by 90%, 85% and 82% respectively of the Gen Z representatives surveyed by BDO.

Gen Z hold employers to high ethical standards too and want to achieve a higher purpose through their employment. Two thirds (66%) of those surveyed say having a career that positively impacts local communities is important to them. 59% say positively impacting the environment is important too.

The natural resources industry has been slow to respond to these changing attitudes. Although 42% of the natural resources corporates interviewed believe their sector has made good or significant efforts to improve its approach to social responsibility, BDO’s research reveals there is more work to be done.

According to the survey, Gen Z doesn’t believe that the natural resources industry can provide what they are looking for from a career. For example, just 15% said they would be very interested in pursuing a career in mining and 14% said the same for the oil and gas sector.

This comes at a time when 51% of natural resources companies expect an increase in the size of their workforce over the next six months. BDO’s survey reveals recruitment efforts will be focused on addressing digital and data skills gaps.

There is evidence that suggests natural resources companies are tackling the recruitment challenges. Half (55%) of corporates surveyed say they have dedicated programmes in place to attract a more diverse talent pool. The most forward-thinking organisations are embracing diverse talent strategies, including establishing dedicated funding to support Gen Z into the sector, refreshing non-financial reward packages to compete with other industries, developing closer partnerships with schools, universities and government and communicating much more clearly the positive role that natural resources companies can play in the transition towards a low carbon economy.

Sherif Andrawes, BDO’s Global Head of Natural Resources, commented:

“The natural resources industry has the potential to be a key component of the world’s decarbonisation process. Yet the industry faces unprecedented recruitment pressures. The need for fresh thinking and a robust talent pipeline has never been greater. At the same time, the attractiveness of a career in natural resources is being called into question by new entrants into the workforce.

“Interestingly, the results of BDO’s global survey highlight Gen Z’s concern about job security while also saving the planet. To convince Gen Z that the natural resources industry can provide these fundamental elements, industry leaders will need to address its cyclical boom and bust nature to demonstrate that careers in the industry are secure, as well as a vital part of the transition towards a green energy future.”

Notes to editors

The BDO global network provides business advisory services in 165 countries, with 97,000 people working out of 1,726 offices worldwide. It has revenues of $11.8bn. 


Ayman Chalak
Global Business Development
Natural Resources & Energy
+32 470 84 1955


¹ Generation Z or Gen Z comprises individuals born in the late 1990s or the first decade of the 21st century.