Program trying to keep younger generation here

Published 5:52 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors approved funding for a five-year training partnership from 2017-2022 with the Port Arthur Industrial Group, PAIG Industrial Service Contractors, city of Port Arthur, Port Arthur Independent School District, Lamar State College Port Arthur, Industrial Safety Training Council and ABC Training for industrial training of Port Arthur residents with a commitment of $250,000 annually at their regular meeting on Monday night.

Krystle Villarreal Muller, employment and training specialist with the PAEDC, gave a presentation and said the crucial approaching job market problem is that Baby Boomer employees are retiring in large numbers. At the same time, many of their younger, potential replacements, currently do not have the appropriate technical skills.

She said the Baby Boomers’ mass exodus will create a vacuum of skills and knowledge, demand replacement workers and therefore there is a compelling need to train the next generation of craft trade workers.

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As it stands, unemployment levels in Port Arthur have consistently exceeded those of the nation, state and Golden Triangle at 11.9 percent.

She then offered strategies to tackle Port Arthur’s unemployment challenges by offering scholarships to gifted Port Arthur high school grads and by partnering with PAISD to ensure the success of its “college in high school” initiative and emphasize duel-enrollment to reduce the costs of college.

However, Muller said a sizable proportion of high school students will not attend college and so it is imperative for them to receive the training and certifications required for job readiness as they graduate from high school.

Finally, she said there must be a systematic and ongoing effort to integrate into the work force long term unemployed adults.

PAISD’s Pipeline for Success Program will kick off in August and that program will focus on PAISD students who are interested and committed to pursuing careers in the craft trades sector. PAISD, with support from PAIG and ABC, will develop the required curriculum for this program.

The occupations included are electricians, plumbers, welders, pipe fitters and related trade jobs.

The goals for the five-year period are to graduate 100 students with appropriate certifications for 2017-2019 and an addition 100 graduates for 2020-2022.

PAISD will work with LSCPA to create any duel-enrollment courses required for this program. PAIG will provide $20,000 annually for technical co-enrollment courses in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

PAIG, furthermore, will budget $75,000 to support creation of this program in 2017. They will also work with PAEDC to create internship type experiences for program participants to the greatest extent possible.

PAEDC will provide the participants annual stipends up to $6,500.

The second strategy is to develop and implement the craft trades job training and placement initiative.

The goal is to place 700 Port Arthur adults in craft trade jobs from 2017-2022. The Adkins Life Coping Skills curriculum, facilitated by Kireh World Church and Outreach Ministries is also available to students.

The annual targets for the five-year period will be:

  • 50 jobs in 2017 and probable gross income for placements of $2 million
  • 75 jobs in 2018 and probable gross income for placements of $3 million
  • 100 jobs in 2019 and probable gross income for placements of $4 million
  • 135 jobs in 2020 and probable gross income for placements of $5.4 million
  • 165 jobs in 2021 and probable gross income for placements of $6.6 million
  • 175 jobs in 2022 and probable gross income for placements of $7 million

It is estimated 700 Port Arthur adults in craft trade jobs by 2022 with average wages of $55,000 a year will be $38.5 million.

Likewise, 200 PAISD graduates at $55,000 a year will be $11 million. Nine hundred workers and collective wages will have an impact of $49.5 million.


David Ball: 409-721-2