September 26, 2017
By Jan Burns JOBS CORRESPONDENT
Community colleges communicate and work closely with area companies to learn what jobs/careers they need to fill.
Because of this, colleges can give students training they need to enter the workforce quickly, with the skills necessary to fill jobs.
“There is a great demand for process operators and for skilled workers in the areas of instrumentation, analyzer technology, welding and electrical, all of which we offer associate degrees and certificates,” said Jeff Parks, dean of business and technology at San Jacinto College.
How long it takes students to complete the training and enter the workforce for these careers can vary, because some students also are working full-time jobs, which limits the number of classes they can take in a term.
Some certificates can be earned in one to two terms, while associate degrees can take four terms and a summer session.
Parks said the East Harris County Manufacturing Association in a recent study reported there will be a demand for more than 11,000 positions in the petrochemical industry over the next five years.
San Jacinto College is meeting this demand by investing in a new facility to train students for work in the petrochemical industry.
They are proud to be breaking ground for the Center for Petrochemical, Energy, and Technology. The 145,000-square-foot facility will include one of the largest simulation pilot plants in Texas.
Aaron Stryk, media relations advisor for ExxonMobil, said there has been a manufacturing renaissance on the Gulf Coast, particularly in Texas, building and expanding petrochemical plants and facilities to take advantage of the new supplies of natural gas from America’s shale regions.
While these multibillion-dollar investments will require tens of thousands of highly skilled workers for construction and operations, the amount of qualified workers just doesn’t exist yet in sufficient quantities.
“We’re actively addressing that problem by underwriting technical education and training in the region to produce those skilled men and women. Four years ago, ExxonMobil partnered with nine Houston-area community colleges to form the Community College Petrochemical Initiative,” Stryk said. “We have contributed $2 million so far to the program, helping build a regional alliance of schools to provide training in the essential skills and competencies needed in the petrochemical industry.
“Students learn everything from welding and pipefitting to instrumentation, computer maintenance, supply chain management, and electrical technology, among other technical skills.”
Stryk said they know all of these programs are having a positive effect.
At the Community College Petrochemical Initiative, for instance, enrollment in petrochemical-related fields at the participating institutions is up nearly 18 percent.
“Four years ago, ExxonMobil partnered with nine Houston-area community colleges to form the Community College Petrochemical Initiative.”
Aaron Stryk, ExxonMobil media relations advisor
Article originally published in Houston Business Journal, September 2017