Lone Star College Program Answers Call to Connect Energy Industry With Trained Job Seekers

Cover7HOUSTON–Whether you are looking to start a career or jump start from unemployment, oil and gas industry has the “Help Wanted” hiring signs up.

One pipeline into this booming career is the new training program offered by Lone Star College.

In 2013, the Lone Star Corporate College (LSCC) in Houston created a 10-week Oil and Gas Drilling Floor-Hand/Roustabout certificate program to help prepare new workers for jobs in the field.

“These are jobs available now because this industry is crying out for workers,” said Micheal Burns, director of Non-Workforce Credit Programs. “We have worked with leaders in this industry to build the kind of program around the industry that allows us to provide the kind of workers they need right now.”

According to a 2013 University of Texas at San Antonio study, oil and gas activity in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale added more than $61 billion in total economic impact and supports 116,000 jobs.

Despite the good news and outlook, the downside is the shortage of labor and filling opening with highly skilled workers.

“This has created great opportunities for people looking for work,” said James Ward, Lead Drilling Faculty for our Non Credit Oil and Gas Programs. “We can train anyone looking to get started in a career or who is starting over. All are welcome.”

Ward is no stranger to the old industry. He spent 28 years in the oil and gas industry working his way up from an entry-level field operator to the vice president of Casing Services Inc. before becoming a lead instructor in LCCC’s gas and oil department.

The LSCC program started as a result of input from Gulf Coast area industry employers and a $199,356 Wagner-Peyser grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The grant helped fund job training to fill workforce needs in the higher demand industries. They also created an eight-week version of the program with night and day options to accommodate more students.

Since its beginnings, of the 135 scholarships in the initial program, 116 completed the program and went on to find employment. So far, 17 others are on track to complete the program, Ward said.

According to Ward, students in the program receive 264 hours of hand-on-core skills experience in mechanical, electrical and fluid power systems and drilling specific training.

Once completed, students also earn the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) Rig Pass and WellCap certifications. Those two certifications are respected credentials for entry-level oil and gas personnel with goals of working on an oil rig.

“It’s 70-percent hands on and 30-percent theory,” Ward said. “Out goal is to make sure each is ready to take on the job and be successful in the field.”

Those taking part in the program range in age from ages 19 to 55 and those completing the program can look forward to consideration from many oil and gas industry companies looking for workers.

According to Burns, tuition for the training in $2,844 for the eight-week course, but students graduating from it are landing jobs averaging $60,000 a year.

At present, the program boasts an 87% hire rate upon program completion.

Some of the high demand jobs include working with oil service companies, working on pad crews, doing hand rigging, drilling operations or working offshore in oil and gas.

Keisha Malik, who graduated from the program in February, now works as a pad crew member in rig constructions with Patterson UTI Drilling Company in Crosby.

“Before I attended this program, I had tried to get into the oil and gas industry several times without any luck,” she shared. “I was actually unemployed when I learned about the program. This program has given me an opportunity to have an actual career that interests me.

She said that everyone has been encouraging her since she started working and feels confident that she has the skills she needs to advance in her career.

Burns said the program also provides training to help prospective employees prepare resumes and do well in job interviews.

Ward said the advantages of the program are that individuals can get great exposure to the industry and work in the field before setting foot on any job.

“What these students learn is superb and I wish I could have used students like this when I was working in the industry,” he said. “I am proud of everyone of them.”

For more information about the Oil and Gas Drilling Floor-Hand/Roustabout certificate program, visit www.lonestar.edu/professional-seminars or email michael.burns@lonestar.edu.

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