HOUSTON - There are more new partnerships between education and the energy sector than ever before. The Houston region needs to fill almost 300,000 jobs in the next three years in what is known as the middle-skills market — people who need additional training, but not necessarily university degrees.
These are area jobs — many paying close to $100,000 within a few years — and the demand to fill them represents arguably the biggest challenge facing the energy and petrochemical booms.
There is a need for drilling operators, electricians, mechanics, welders, pipefitters, instrumentation workers and more. There are also plenty of less obvious needs like human resources, truck drivers and supply chain logistics.
Houston serves as North America’s energy hub. Petrochemical growth companies have committed $100.2 billion to new expansion projects in the U.S. by 2023. The vast majority of these projects are in the Houston and Gulf Coast areas.
"We cannot produce enough machinists and welders,” Lone Star College System Chancellor Steve Head said. A new welder in the Houston area can have a starting salary close to $75,000 a year.
Lone Star's University Park campus now features its new $20 million Energy and Manufacturing Institute.
Houston Community College is growing its Energy Institute.
Brazosport College is building a new Crafts Academy Welding Lab and partnering with the Dow Chemical Co. and San Jacinto College is expanding its maritime training program.
Baker Hughes Inc. recently invested $56 million in its 305,000-sf Western Hemisphere Education Center in Tomball that opened in May. The center filled to capacity almost immediately and is training about 500 people daily.
The U.S. shale oil and gas industry directly and indirectly employs 1.7 million people. By 2015, it is expected to rise by almost 50 percent to 2.5 million jobs before reaching 3 million jobs by 2020.
In the utilities subsector, it is projected 100,000 new jobs will be created by 2020 when a substantial number of utility employees reach retirement age. Currently, 50 percent of the workforce is over 40, and 60 percent of the workforce will retire in ten years.
The Greater Houston Partnership and the Department of Labor released stats for the 296,000 middle-skills jobs expected in the area through 2017:
- 34.6 percent blue collar energy, construction, etc.
- 23.8 percent sales and office support
- 13.3 percent managerial and professional office
- 12 percent health care
- 9.1 percent food and personal services
- 1.7 percent education
- 3 percent STEM
- 2.5 percent community services and arts