Brazosport College President Dr. Millicent Valek, center, joins other Community College Petrochemical Initiative-affiliated presidents and chancellors recently at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Pictured are, from left, Houston Community College Associate Vice Chancellor of Workforce Instruction Dr. Madeline Burillo; San Jacinto College Chancellor Brenda Hellyer; ExxonMobil Chemical Company Senior Vice President Lynne Lachenmyer; College of the Mainland President Dr. Beth Lewis; Brazosport College President Dr. Millicent Valek; Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown; Alvin Community College President (retiring) Dr. A. Rodney Allbright; and Galveston College President Dr. W. Myles Shelton.
As visitors gather at Reliant Park for the 2014 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) is on site to let them know about the training available at Texas Gulf Coast community colleges for high-paying jobs in the local chemical manufacturing industry.
Brazosport College is one of the nine CCPI-affiliated colleges participating in the exhibit.
As a rodeo sponsor, CCPI is staffing an interactive exhibit to promote its technical training programs to qualify students to meet the chemical industry’s current and future workforce needs. The presidents and chancellors of the colleges, as well as high school and college students interested in chemical industry jobs, are also participating.
"The nine CCPI-affiliated community colleges have joined together to spread the word about the great careers we can help launch,” said Dr. Dennis Brown, president of Lee College and chairman of the CCPI consortium. “The level of interest from residents in the greater Houston area has been tremendous.”
Brazosport College staffed the exhibit on March 10 and will return again on Thursday, March 20.
“This booth is highlighting the high-wage, high-demand career opportunities that exist in the greater Houston area within the petrochemical industry and we are pleased to be a part of it,” said Beth Cassidy, Brazosport College Director of Workforce Developments and School Partnerships. “Our team has carefully planned an exhibit that is informative, attractive and engaging, and we have enjoyed sharing the many opportunities for careers in this industry.”
CCPI is sharing course materials and best practices among the region’s nine community colleges. CCPI expects to attract as many as 50,000 students and educators across the state over the next five years and fast track them through certification and degree programs in a variety of technical fields, including instrumentation, computer and electrical technology, machining, millwrighting, welding, pipefitting, and other skills and competencies needed by the chemical manufacturing and refining industries.
“ExxonMobil’s financial support of CCPI is instrumental in our recruitment of students for the technical training programs that are required for entry into these highly skilled trade and craft careers,” Dr. Brown said. In June 2013, ExxonMobil made its first $500,000 contribution to begin the expansion of community college training.
Lynne Lachenmyer, senior vice president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, said that ExxonMobil is committing an additional $500,000 in financial support to expand its commitment to $1 million for the initiative.
“We expect thousands of jobs to be coming to the Houston area because of new industry investment to capitalize on the abundant, affordable supply of U.S. natural gas to produce chemicals,” Lachenmyer said. “This program is about preparing area residents to fill those jobs and launch satisfying careers in a critical industry.”
At an average annual salary of $99,700, the Texas chemical industry’s pay scale is 46 percent higher than the average for manufacturing. Texas is the largest chemical producing state in the country, supporting more than 73,000 jobs today, with another 81,000 jobs expected through announced investments in new and existing chemical industry capacity.
The Community College Petrochemical Initiative consists of community colleges and school districts in the greater Houston and Texas Gulf Coast area, each providing skills training for the region’s businesses and industries. Its membership includes Alvin Community College, Brazosport College, College of the Mainland, Galveston College, Houston Community College, Lee College, Lone Star College, San Jacinto College and Wharton County Junior College.
The CCPI’s www.gulfcoastcc.org website provides information to locate training programs at area community colleges.