The Gulf Coast is expected to boom over the coming years, as more oil and gas companies drill offshore wells, the fracking industry produces more and more gas and oil which needs to be converted into LNG or refined into usable petroleum products, and plans exist to pipe Canadian crude down to ports in the Gulf for refining and export.
The large number of new projects planned for the area, have led industry experts to predict a labour demand that will require around 500,000 new, skilled workers before 2020.
Jack Gerard, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, explained that the industry required skilled electricians, pipefitters, and welders; and that it was such an important topic, so vital to the industry’s expansion, that it merited the attention of company CEO’s.
Related article: Chevron Regains Foothold in Argentina’s Oil Sector
“We want to make sure we’re prepared for the work of the future.”
With this in mind Mr. Gerard recently took a tour of the Pipefitter Local Union 211 based in Houston, and plans to visit other apprenticeship programs around the country, to determine their ability to supply the labour force with the skilled workers demanded.
At the Houston-based Pipefitters Local 211, the apprenticeship programs last five years, with students generally working a full-time day job, and then going to school four hours a night, for two days a week.
Demand will increase for skilled labour, such as welders and pipefitters. (SubseaWorldNews)
According to FuelFix, around 70% of the apprentice students focus on welding and pipefitting, with the rest studying heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
Apprentices expect to earn around $15.62 an hour during their first year, but then by the time they have left the course as an official graduate, they can earn $28.37 an hour.
Related article: New Enhanced Oil Recovery Technique Boosts Production to 85%
Jason Ducey was working as a ditchdigger on $21 an hour, but on the suggestion of his friends, he decided to enrol in an apprenticeship to become a welder and pipefitter. His initial wage as a welder was low, but now that he is nearing the end of his apprenticeship he commands far more than his old ditchdigging pay slip. He is boosting his pay potential even more by also taking a course in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
“I’m set for the rest of my life with a trade that will provide for myself and my family,” he said. “A lot of folks don’t know where they’ll be in a year or five years from now,” he explained.
Sean McGarvey, the president of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, said that in many parts of the US graduate students with bachelor degrees are entering apprenticeships, realising that whilst they can’t find a job with their degree, they can earn $100,000 to $125,000 as an electrician.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com