AFPM: Petrochemical industry needs skilled workers

The current boom in shale resource development has sparked an urgent need in the petrochemical industry for technically skilled workers to build, operate, and maintain about $100 billion of announced chemical projects, according to Peter L. Cella, president and chief executive officer of Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP.

Speaking during an Apr. 1 panel discussion at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ (AFPM) International Petrochemical Conference in San Antonio, Cella said that industry projections show the need for nearly 90,000 craft workers in 2015 as construction begins on chemical processing projects planned along the US Gulf Coast.

While Cella noted the industry will always need college graduates with professional degrees, he emphasized the most significant constraint facing the petrochemical manufacturing business is the availability of workers who opt for occupations that require less formal, less expensive academic training.

“Our most acute need is for welders, pipefitters, riggers, operators, instrument technicians, and other craftspersons, all with 2-year degrees or certifications,” Cella said, adding that these less financially burdensome career paths can offer high wages in the booming petrochemical industry.

Top-paid hourly operating or maintenance craft employees in Chevron Phillips Chemical’s domestic manufacturing plants, who work overtime in a given year, have the ability to earn up to as much as $100,000/year, according to Cella.

Chevron Phillips Chemical expects to hire more than 2,800 employees over the next 6 years to support its growth plans as the company faces a surge in demand for these skilled workers to replace a wave of retirees.

Cella also added that the company expects its previously announced petrochemical plant planned for the Texas Gulf Coast will create 400 long-term jobs as well as 10,000 construction and engineering jobs spanning the length of the project (OGJ Online, Nov. 20, 2013; May 2, 2012; May 1, 2012; Mar. 29, 2011).

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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