With jobs and salaries for recent college grads on a downward trend across the country since 2008’s Great Recession communities and higher education institutions have been forced to respond with new local and regional workforce training strategies. Job and career training and skills certification increasingly has become the primary means of addressing the gap between current workforce and the skills businesses of today and the future require.
In the Houston region Lone Star College has made a strong decision to do their part to affect positive change towards closing the regional skills gap.
Typically providing future workers with skills particularly for advanced manufacturing and process related industries has been extremely difficult due to the high cost burden on higher education institutions to provide the right space, equipment and staff required to properly train and certify students.
Specifically in the Lake Houston Area, Lone Star College-Kingwood is helping to meet the new workforce demands by building a Process Technology Center in Generation Park. This will help LHA’s local economy because the new center will create opportunities for local and regional industries to engage with prospective future workers to ensure that they are receiving the skills their businesses require.
Even in the face of low oil prices right now we are experiencing the greatest petrochemical construction boom in the history of the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast with more than $50 billion in projects underway in Houston alone. With the current billions of dollars of petrochemical industry growth currently taking place in east Houston, driven by lower natural gas prices and constant innovations in technology to boost production from shale, the new center will help LHA to take part in our fair share of that job growth.
LHA is already well positioned geographically to the robust construction and operation of downstream facilities and the new center will help to further ensure that LHA residents are well positioned workforce development wise as time goes on to continue to have great access to employment opportunities in the downstream refining and petrochemical industries growth.
Until Lone Star College-Kingwood’s announcement, Lone Star College was the only community college system located in the Gulf South without a Process Technology Center.
The Lone Star College-Kingwood Process Technology Center will prepare students as trained operations technicians to be employed in a range of local and regional industries making products in petrochemicals and refining, food and beverage processing, pharmaceuticals, even brewing beer or producing indispensable products such as baby diapers, according to Maribeth Still, Lone Star College-Kingwood Dean of Business, Technology, Communication and Languages. “The center will be housed in 2017 at our Atascocita Center until we can open our new Process Technology Center in Generation Park,” said Still. “We’ll be located directly across from Summer Creek High School and we’re hoping to create a dual high school credit program.”