The $12.6 million center is one of the projects from the college system’s $485 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2014. The 10,000-square-foot center will sit on 18.9 acres at 14102 Humble Road, Tomball, Head said. Plans for the center include a customized training rig, a modular training building and an equipment building, which will offer training in drilling, hydraulic manufacturing and other engineering technology located both on a rig and in the classroom, she said.
Peter Beard, the senior vice president of regional workforce development at the Greater Houston Partnership, said the energy industry saw a downturn in the Greater Houston area from 2015-16. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, there were 113,000 jobs in the Greater Houston area’s oil and gas industry in December 2014, but that number had fallen 33% by December 2016, dropping to 75,700 jobs.
However, since that time, employment levels total 85,800 jobs in the region as of August, TWC data shows.
“That [increase] shows there’s still growth in this, but it goes with the cyclical nature of the job,” Beard said.
While the industry is on an upturn, the LSCS board of trustees is pushing to begin work on the drilling services center, Head said.
During the downturn, college officials consulted with various experts in the industry to determine what components would be needed for a drilling services center, she said.
The college system also partnered with oil field services company Baker Hughes in Tomball to allow students to train on the company’s oil rig for one week each month in lieu of the facility, a partnership that will continue until the LSCS center is open, Head said.
“We haven’t been doing nothing; we’ve just been holding off to see what happens in the industry,” Head said. “Now that things are on the upturn, our board and our chancellor decided it was time to move forward.”
Head said there will not be a ground breaking, and a grand opening of the LSC-Drilling Services Technology Center will be announced at a later date.
“There’s not another [center] like it. It’s going to be a unique asset to serve the energy sector in the state of Texas,” said Eric Roe, executive director of The University of Texas at Austin’s Petroleum Extension unit. “Texas has been synonymous with energy, but none of that works without a skilled workforce. The investment that [the LSCS] is making in this modern facility will help make sure that we have a skilled workforce and ensure that we stay the global leader [in oil and gas].”
University of Texas partnership
To further equip students for the oil and gas industry, LSCS announced in late September its partnership with UT-PETEX in a news release. UT-PETEX provides research and workforce training programs for those in the oil and gas industry, Roe said. The program is housed at LSC-University Park.
“Rather than compete, we look for people to partner with. We don’t want to rebuild the wheel; we want to look at the strengths of both organizations and bring those together to meet the training needs of the industry,” Roe said.
This partnership allows both students and those already in the oil and gas workforce to use the training resources offered at LSCS and UT-PETEX, Beard said. Texas Workforce Commission data predicts a 12.3% increase in oil and gas industry jobs across the Greater Houston area by 2026.
"A lot of employees going forward have to be lifelong learners as global and technological influences continue to change and advance,” he said. “[The collaboration between LSCS and UT] opens up the opportunities related to how a company could partner with [them] to provide additional professional development.”