Port Arthur EDC, Lamar State College PA continue job training partnership

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Dr. Ben Stafford remembers the time the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation began to partner with Lamar State College Port Arthur to train the local workforce.

“When our president [at LSCPA, Dr. Betty Reynard] came, I was dean of our technical programs, which are one-year certificates and two-year degrees,” Stafford said. “We did workforce short-term training for the refineries, as requested. We didn’t have a program that just focused on helping people get jobs and helping the refineries when they needed a specific task done.”

Five years later, the EDC and Lamar State are continuing a partnership aimed at training Port Arthur residents enrolled in a two-year associates’ degree program for skills for which local businesses and industries desire. The Port Arthur City Council authorized an agreement between the EDC and the college last week.

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Stafford, now the dean of workforce and continuing education, said the EDC helps with tuition for Port Arthur residents.

“One of our first partners was the city of Port Arthur and Port Arthur ISD,” Stafford said. “They both needed drivers, and they had specifically said, ‘The drivers we’re getting, they don’t have the experience with what we need them experienced at. We have to re-train them and they’re getting too much simulation in training.’

“So, we created a truck driving program. We used a diversity of vehicles instead of just training with a big 18-wheeler, which most people do,” Stafford continued. “We train with Port Arthur ISD school buses, with Port Arthur city dump trucks. They use them during the day. We train with them at night. Our graduates come out, they can go straight to the ISD or straight to the city. They walk into that truck and they are functional from Day One.”

Many of the skills that Stafford’s department offers will soon be needed for expansion projects at industries such at Golden Pass LNG. According to data from Stafford, Golden Pass projects it needs 555 employees for site work to be completed by approximately 2023 and 1,148 employees for structural concrete work to be finished by approximately 2022.

“We teach carpentry. We teach concrete. We teach scaffolding,” he said. “We’re about to do heavy equipment operations. We do whatever the job market around us calls for, and my students go out quickly to get jobs, and many of them come back to us over time.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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