From the inner-city to the Gulf of Mexico

Blue Cross describes health law impact on La. premiums
July 16, 2013
State ups funding for The Haven
July 16, 2013
Blue Cross describes health law impact on La. premiums
July 16, 2013
State ups funding for The Haven
July 16, 2013

Pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry is a no-brainer for many in the Tri-parish area, but for several young, inner-city adults, the idea of a job offshore may never have come to mind without a visit to the BP Houma Operations Learning Center.

“We work with numerous organizations to educate young adults who are coming into the job market,” said BP HOLC manager Linwood Patin. “They learn more about the job prospects in the oil and gas industry and jobs they may not have known about. BP is committed to the Gulf of Mexico, and we need young, enthusiastic hardworking people to fill jobs in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Today, we will give them an overview of what careers are available and get them interested in the business. With these jobs, they can support families and the community and grow. All they have to do is step forward and get involved.”

The BP HOLC regularly hosts such career events for high school students, but the group on this particular day compromised 17 young adults ages 16-22 from Café Reconcile in New Orleans. Café Reconcile is a non-profit organization and restaurant. It provides culinary and life skills training for high and at-risk youth who may or may not have completed high school. During the 12-week hospitality training program, students are provided with a stipend, and, toward the end of the 12 weeks, students are placed in internships at hotels and restaurants in New Orleans.

“We help them with bills, childcare, even getting a haircut,” said Café Reconcile interim program director Tyrone Keelan. “We take away every reason people come up with not to complete the program. Some of those who come to us have been abused, abandoned, stuck in the court system or are even homeless.

“We want them to learn about what BP does. We get some people into the program who have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential card, and there may be some career opportunities for students who have those.”

“The students from Café Reconcile face social challenges that most of us could not imagine,” Patin said. “We will help steer them. It’s very encouraging.”

While Patin and Keelan hoped the event would pique some student’s interest in the oil and gas industry, some of the program’s graduates have gone on to culinary school, traveled to New York to work with top chef’s and one even landed a jobassisting the mayor of New Orleans with the city’s midnight basketball program.

“We are very thankful to BP for their help and their support of our programs at Café Reconcile,” Keelan added.

Prior to the tour of the facility, students were shown a video highlighting BP’s work in the Gulf of Mexico, and Patin told the group how he got started in the oil and gas industry.

“Thirty-four years ago, I was in the same place you are in, looking for direction,” he said. “I stepped my game up and went on a job interview at Amoco. They showed me what I could do, and I took off and ran with it. I encourage you to find a career and a job that can take you somewhere.

“You have already shown that you are willing to work by being part of Café Reconcile, and you will have to work for this.”

Patin asked several students in the room where they wanted to go and what they wanted to be after completing the Café Reconcile workforce development program.

“You could start with BP and end up somewhere else in the world,” he said. “You can have no experience in the oil and gas industry, and, in two years, you can have the competency to do these jobs. What used to take eight to 10 years of learning on the job, you can learn in three to five years by getting an education. It cuts five years from the process. The company saves and you benefit, too.

“At 12 years old, I wanted to be a mechanic and even got a job sweeping in a shop so I could learn. I thought that was it for me until Amoco. At your age, you don’t have to settle. With drive and hard work, you can achieve this.”

Several of the students expressed in interest in cooking opportunities available offshore, and a few asked questions about earning the degrees needed to work in the oil field.

“So far, Fletcher has graduated 20 students from its two-year integrated production technologies program” said Fletcher Technical Community College’s director of planning and institution effectiveness Dr. Stanton McNeely. “We partner with BP to increase the number of people entering the oil and gas industry workforce. Students broaden their horizons at Fletcher, and we are happy to be a part of that.”

“I hope to enlighten these students today and show them there are really good job opportunities and that they can have a fulfilling and financially rewarding career in the oil and gas industry.”

McNeely briefed the students with a slideshow on what the program entails, skills they can learn and certificates they can earn and discussed the college’s “60K is Two Years Away” campaign. The tour is one of many Fletcher has participated in at the BP facility, and the college also participates in other such events with the South Central Industrial Association, the South Central Louisiana Technical College and Nicholls State University.

“There is a synergy with Fletcher and Nicholls,” McNeely said. “Students can come to Fletcher and get the two year degree to learn about production. Then, they may work a few years in the field and then decide to attend Nicholls to get their bachelors in petroleum safety.

“For these inner-city kids, this tour can be an eye opener. Hopefully it will give them career opportunity ideas they many never have considered.”

Café Reconcile atudent Eric Clark, 18, was surprised to learn about the base salary available to graduates with a two-year degree from Fletcher.

“Sixty thousand was a lot more than I thought it would be,” Clark said. “I learned that there are a lot more job opportunities, but I’m still debating whether to pursue a culinary arts degree or get into commercial diving. I may go after diving, but culinary will be my fallback plan.”

“My passion is poetry, but I am interested in the jobs available offshore and the different salaries,” said 21-year-old student Joe Liggins. “I will definitely look into the IPT programs, but I’d really like to look into being a chef offshore.”

Dr. Stanton McNeely, director of planning and institution effectiveness at Fletcher Technical Community College, speaks to a group of students from Café Reconcile in New Orleans. Café Reconcile, a non-profit organization and restaurant, provides culinary and life skills training for high and at-risk youth who may or may not have completed high school.