ODESSA, Texas — The Permian Basin is expected to need 115,000 additional workers by 2040, according to the Permian Strategic Partnership.
On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas teamed up with local leaders to better understand the economy in the region with the pandemic now mostly in the past.
Discussions were very positive all around with education, career readiness and workforce all highlighted.
Another key theme was partnership among community entities, a significant factor for success moving forward.
“So, I would say it’s going to be ongoing, continued partnerships and levels of engagement, because at the end of the day, whatever we lost as a result of the pandemic, if we’re going to try and close that gap, none of us in this room can do the heavy lifting alone," said Adrian Vega, Executive Director of the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin. "It’s going to take all of us, because the bottom line is, we all live in this community and so we’re all facing the same challenges.”
The Permian Basin falls into the 11th district of the federal reserve, and with President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Lorie Logan on hand to hear panel discussions, there is importance in understanding the economy.
“Particularly the Permian Basin, because it is sort of the seed of energy in the country, and so…our president wants to make sure she really has an understanding of the energy sector, the issues – now and around the corner," said Alfreda Norman, Senior Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Some challenges discussed during the session included better early education, continuing to improve workforce development though higher education and then setting those people up to strengthen the workforce in the Permian Basin.
“We need to meet our students where they are, as well as the employers, so that we can help to bridge that gap," said Gregory Williams, President of Odessa College. "We are the conduit, we’re the connectors, we’re the ones to help them to have the skills needed, and then we're the ones to help the businesses to have hope and to help them find the people they’re looking for."
Dr. Williams mentioned that retention is important as higher education looks to create homegrown talent for energy, healthcare and other industries locally.
The Permian Strategic Partnership has helped invest over one billion dollars into the Permian Basin in four years of existence, and they are aiming to help make that a reality.
“Part of what makes our community so spectacular is we have a couple of the best community colleges anywhere and we have our gem [in] UTPB, and so making sure that we are fully utilizing those institutions to leverage workforce – to leverage in education and healthcare – is going to be critical," said Tracee Bentley, President and CEO of the Permian Strategic Partnership. "And I think, again, making sure they have the resources – public-private partnerships – to give us the workforce we need is going to be very important.”
Bentley also mentioned the importance of helping Midland ISD and Ector County ISD add great staff, as well as improving access to healthcare.
Norman added that small cities and rural areas typically see success with partnerships like the Permian Basin where major entities are dependent on each other to succeed.