Educators at all levels agree that tomorrow’s youth need to start preparing today for the jobs that await them.
At the first annual Eagle Ford Shale Consortium, held in San Antonio Feb. 29-March 2, educators from all levels shared their thoughts recently on how to prepare the youth.
“We are training them for all aspects of the industry,” said Alicia Carrillo, career technology director of United ISD in Laredo. “We are not going to graduate petroleum engineers from our high schools, but we are going to expose them.”
While she is told the district needs to offer more vocational classes, now called technical ed., the district does offer 14 certificates that the students can graduate with as well as duel enrollment programs. The certificates cover a wide spectrum of skills, from safety and Photoshop certifications to Microsoft Office Suite certifications and more. In duel credit classes, the students get a feel for the field they are interested in, and it allows them to start college with credit under their belt.
Glynis Holm Strause, dean of institutional advancement for Coastal Bend College, has taken training a step further and is actually offering petroleum industry training.
Classes include petroleum rigs, well completions, safety certifications and more.
She also wants to work with companies to better train the workforce that is attending the college so that, when they come out, they are guaranteed employment.
“The point is customization,” she said. “If the company needs it, we are going to figure out a way to provide it.”
The college has interviewed several companies and, as a result, has added some classes and hopes to continue to do so.
Some of the additional classes CBC is looking at adding because of the Eagle Ford include a landman certification and gauger training.
The college’s CDL program has expanded from being offered at one campus to being offered at several campuses.
Strause said the college hopes to continue to expand what it has to offer.
“We want to be the friend of the petroleum industry,” she said.
Laredo Community College, to the south, has added multiple classes as a direct result of the Eagle Ford. The college started its program in February 2011, according to Orlando Zepeda, oil and gas institute director, and the college is offering one-semester and two-semester certifications.
Each semester comes with cooperative education or working in the field with companies.
“We are excited about our program,” he said. “The main thing is we couldn’t have done it without local companies.”
He is proud that his college has forged relations with companies such as ConocoPhillips to offer in the field training to students. The college wants to continue those relations while working to form new ones.
Laredo Community College is currently working to secure funds to build a new facility dedicated to oil and gas studies.
Federico Zaragoza, chancellor of economic and workforce development for Alamo colleges, by far reaches the greatest number of students at more than 63,000 enrolled across the multiple campuses.
They offer a number of programs and “we are the number one pipeline for engineering in Texas,” Zaragoza said.
Not everyone desires to transfer into a four-year college to finish an engineering degree, and the college is aware of that and has programs for those other kids as well, including a four-week boot camp. At the end of the boot camp, the students come out with a safety certification and a CDL permit.
High schools and community colleges across South Texas have taken note of the Eagle Ford and are all moving forward with putting classes in place that will get their students certified in something and into a job.
This is a good time to be a student in South Texas. There are more job opportunities than there have been in previous years.
Editor’s note: This is one of several stories that will be appearing in the paper over the next couple of weeks on speakers heard at the Eagle Ford Consortium Conference that took place in San Antonio Feb. 29-March 2. The theme of the conference was Creating a Sustainable Pathway. It was attended by more than 500 people from all over South Texas.