Best Practices
April 29, 2014

To Address Skills Shortage, ExxonMobil Invests in Houston

ExxonMobil Process Technology Program

The sprawling city of Houston, often called the energy capital of the world, is home to thousands of companies engaged in energy-related work. The energy industry has enjoyed success in recent years, driving much of the area’s economic growth and employment. Houston’s Port Authority is making significant infrastructure improvements in the Houston Ship Channel to accommodate the vessels and cargos from energy-related production and international trade. And thanks to energy, Houston can boast it now has more manufacturing jobs and exports than prior to the recession.

The Greater Houston Partnership forecasts continued job growth in 2014, driven by several factors, including the ramp-up in construction at area chemical plants. While many of these jobs do not require a four-year college degree, they do require technical training at a time when there is a growing shortage of skilled labor to fill these jobs. As one of the largest employers in the Houston area, ExxonMobil recognized this challenge. In 2013, they reached out to Lee College in nearby Baytown with a $500,000 grant to build on the proven success of the nationally recognized ExxonMobil Process Technology program at the school.

Lee College, a nationally recognized leader in training workers for the chemical industry, developed a partnership with eight other Houston-area community colleges to expand its technical training and share course materials, faculty, and best practices.

Together, the schools launched the website www.gulfcoastcc.org to show high school students, returning military veterans, and others the range of career opportunities available to them in the chemical industry. The website provides critical details, such as the salaries for these jobs, the expected number of job openings, and the training that participating schools can provide. This convenient tool allows anyone to explore career opportunities in one of America’s fastest growing industries and identify the training program nearest to them.

Thousands of jobs are expected in the Houston area in the coming years due to the abundant, affordable supply of U.S. shale energy. With even more growth on the horizon, ExxonMobil recently increased their support of this Houston area community college workforce development program to $1 million. As a result, many other energy companies have recognized the value of investing in this program and plan to offer scholarships to qualified students.

In addition to the available scholarships, the program offers a variety of class times to accommodate students’ schedules. And with a growing number of students interested in chemical and energy industry careers, the demand for qualified faculty has increased. This provides the opportunity for seasoned energy industry workers to share their knowledge through teaching seminars and mentoring programs.

Over the next five years, this initiative is expected to benefit 50,000 students and teachers. As a result, workers in all stages of their careers—from students new to the energy industry to industry veterans approaching retirement—are able to share the benefits of ExxonMobil’s investment in Houston’s continued economic vitality.

For more information about the ExxonMobil Process Technology program, contact Steve Lestarjette, director of marketing and public affairs for Lee College, at slestarjette@lee.edu.