by Nick Lawton
MIDLAND - Welders, field technicians, mechanics, not the most glamorous of jobs in the oil industry, but jobs that are still greatly needed.
"It takes a lot of people that are willing to go out in the field and work and that's where the largest number of people are needed," Hoxie Smith, Director of the Petroleum Professional Development Center, said.
And at the moment, feet for those shoes are in short supply.
Experts in the service sector of oil and energy are noting a new trend, one in which there are plenty of jobs but not enough technically-trained recruits.
These are jobs that don't necessarily require potential employees to have a Bachelor's Degree so much as training for specialized skills.
"A lot of what we do is out in the field," Smith said. "And we realize that's really where we have the lion's share of the people that need to be working."
The fear is that with more Baby Boomers hanging up their work boots to retire, there won't be enough young people interested in taking their place in the hard labor jobs.
So the Petroleum Professional Development Center as well as the Advanced Technology Center are working with Midland College to help fill the void.
This will be the second year Midland College is offering a dual-credit Energy Technology Degree program for high-schoolers.
"We have a dual-credit program connecting back with Midland Independent School District where the high school students starting in 11th grade can get both high school and college credit as they go through and then they can transition right into the programs in a college environment," Curt Pervier, Midland College Dean of Technical Studies, said.
The program is designed not only to help fill those essential roles, but also to open up students to the opportunities they could have in the job market.
"If they enjoy working with their hands, there's a tremendous number of jobs available to them," Pervier said. "Whether they're working on airplanes, working air conditioning and heating, working in the oil field and those types of things. But if they enjoy what they do, then they basically never work a day in their life."
Instructors at the centers want to stress to young people preparing to enter the job market that it's not all dirt and grime.
It's a chance to find something they love to do.