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Building STEM competencies for Gulf Coast industry

Six months ago, I blogged about ExxonMobil’s investments in the workforce of the future in the Houston area.

A big component of that is the educational alliance we are building with Lee College and eight other Gulf Coast community colleges to offer fast-track job certification and degree programs in a variety of energy- and chemical-related technical fields. The program is being underwritten by a half-million-dollar grant from ExxonMobil.

We are proud of this program because of its aim to strengthen the entire Gulf Coast energy and petrochemical industry in the years ahead.

Employer of the Year

We are equally proud that it was singled out last week for commendation by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), which named ExxonMobil its “Employer of the Year.”

Understandably, the Commission noted our proposed expansion at our Baytown, Texas, chemical facilities as one of its main reasons for selecting ExxonMobil from among several candidates. If it proceeds, that expansion is expected to generate 10,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs along the Gulf Coast.

But the Commission also threw a spotlight on our job-training initiative as critical to ExxonMobil efforts to champion workforce and economic development statewide.

STEM – and standards – for the jobs of the future

This new regional initiative has its roots in Lee College’s Process Technology Program, which ExxonMobil helped to develop about seven years ago.

We recognized the need for such a program when we began seeing many high school graduate job applicants who did not have the science, math, technology, or engineering (STEM) skills needed to pass the qualification exams at our Baytown refining and chemical facilities.

A significant element of the Lee College program is the STEM training needed to work in our increasingly technical industry. More than 15 percent of new hires at Baytown since 2005 have come through the Lee College program, upon which our new initiative expands.

Last week’s announcement from the Texas Workforce Commission is a gratifying development for ExxonMobil, and good news for the Gulf Coast petrochemical industry.


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