Sunday, April 01, 2007

Building for the boom

Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Lamar State College-Orange's Jay Trahan, director of the Workforce Development Department, (left) and John Gooch, welding program director, (right) inspect the facility under construction in Orange on Friday, Feb. 23, 2007. The college has a partnership with the Port of Orange to rebuild a welding training facility formerly owned by the school district. The college has gotten a $1.5 million grant to put 450 new welders into the workforce in the next three years.

This isn't an exciting image, but it's a lead image into what's coming. Southeast Texas is about to go into a metalwork boom. Petroleum plant expansions, three new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plants, ship building and a new truck manufacturing plant are all revving their engines and acquiring workers.

There's a need for up to 30,000 trained welders, mechanics, pipefitters and millwrights and general construction workers. Some of these jobs pay $30 per hour. Consequently, local universities, colleges and high schools have beefed up or dusted off their vocational programs and are training as fast as they can.

It means veterans coming back home have high-paying jobs available for them. A new veteran can take a four-week course at Lamar college and go to work with a good income. Many businesses are paying for the programs to get new employees. The students can graduate the training program without educational loans to pay and a guaranteed job.

For the record, this also means some folks with a high school diploma or GED and a four-week training program are going to earn more for the first day of work than a PJ with a MFA and 15 years experience. This is assuming newspapers still exist in a few years. I just thought I'd brighten the day - especially for PJ undergrads. :-)

Please read "Industry could deliver $30-an-hour jobs" by Sarah Moore.

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