HOUSTON — Representatives from Galveston College and College of the Mainland in Texas City have been spending a lot of time at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo — but they weren’t at Reliant Park for the bull riding, steer show or corn dogs.

They were there to recruit students. In particular, students looking for jobs in the petrochemical industry.

The Galveston County schools are part of a nine-college consortium of Texas Gulf Coast community colleges looking to draw more students to petrochemical-based technical jobs.

Lee College in Baytown, Alvin Community College, San Jacinto College, Brazosport College, Wharton County Junior College, Houston Community College and Lone Star College are also a part of the consortium that offer training in one or more of 14 job-related programs.

The display for the Community College Petrochemical Initiative doesn’t soft sell the opportunities. It points out in bold letters that jobs offered through the training at one of the nine community colleges pay as much as $97,000 on average.

And there are a lot of jobs.

Lynne Lachenmyer, senior vice president for ExxonMobil Chemical Co., said there are already 73,000 petrochemical jobs in the Houston-Galveston Gulf Coast Region with another 80,000 expected to be added within the next five years.

It is estimated there are 148 different chemical and petrochemical projects in the works totaling more than $100 billion in petrochemical expansion.  

That’s being driven by cheaper and abundant natural gas that is creating a renaissance in manufacturing jobs in the United States, she said.

“These are well paying jobs sitting at our doorstep,” she said.

The growth in the industry and the need for qualified applicants is why ExxonMobil invested $500,000 to start the Community College Petrochemical Initiative last year. On Monday, the company added another $500,000 to extend the effort for another year.

At a glance

Community College Petrochemical Initiative; two-year degrees or certificate

Analyzer technology, computer maintenance, computer aided drafting and design, electrical training, engineering technology, instrumentation technology, logistics and supply, machine technology, millwrighting, pipe fitting, process technology, production technology and welding


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