May 10, 2022 – A record number forty-eight (48) graduating seniors from Brazoria County, Texas high schools ‘signed’ for full time jobs with work inside one of the twenty-three Brazoria County Petrochemical Industry (BCPC) manufacturing plants shortly after graduation in late May 2022. Brazoria County is just south of Houston, Texas. Each signee was announced at the BCPC fourth annual ‘Career Signing Day.’ The series of signings were at the ABC Building in Freeport, Texas. Those selected start work after graduation.
Modeled after athlete letter of intent commitment letters, ‘Career Signing Day’ is an occasion for graduating high school seniors to be placed in full time roles for work, on the job training and classroom instruction that often leads to professional certification.
Record Number of Jobs for Signees. The record setting number of signees is good news for BCPC members as skilled labor is critical to the present and future of the petrochemical manufacturing industry. “This number of signees is the most ever,” said BCPC Workforce Development board representative, BASF senior vice president and Freeport site leader Chris Witte. “By contrast, there were only 38 applicants for the 2021 Career Signing Day. It shows how much interest there is in the skilled trades and how dedicated the BCPC member companies are to recruit, train and retain local people for good paying, lifetime career positions here in Brazoria County.”
BCPC Membership The members of the BCPC are Air Liquide, Ascend Performance Materials, BASF, Braskem, ChampionX, Chevron-Phillips Chemical, Dow, DSM, Freeport LNG Development, Huntsman, INEOS, K-Bin, Linde, Lyondell-Bassell, MEGlobal, Mineral Research and Development, Olin, Phillips 66, Port of Freeport, Shin Etsu Chemicals, Shintech, SI Group, and Vencorex.
Intense Screening ‘Career Signing Day’ is the culmination of an intense screening process for high school seniors who are interested in trade or craft jobs. Welding, pipe fitting, instrumentation, and boilermakers are most of the roles available. Each requires a great deal of instruction, practice, and skill. “Students must submit written applications including an essay, and interview with hiring managers,” said Aaron Ennis, BCPC Workforce Development committee chair and resource development coordinator for the Brazosport Independent School District. “It is a rigorous process because these jobs represent a substantial investment by the contract and BCPC member companies. We need to know that these applicants are serious about their commitment because they can potentially last an entire career.”
Why This Matters There is a shortage of skilled labor for industry in Brazoria County. The demand for certified pipe-fitters, welders, machinists, mechanics, boilermakers, and other skilled persons exceed availability. These craft persons help build and later run the petrochemical plants currently in place, under construction, or planned in Brazoria County. “We need the help,” Witte said. “Career Signing Day is one of the ways we can ensure sufficient access to skilled labor. We also like that the signees are from the area and share a commitment to it.”
Not Only a Local Issue According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 8 million skilled-labor jobs were lost from the labor force during the Covid-19 pandemic. About half were filled, but approximately 4 million vacancies remain. National Association of Workforce Boards President Ron Painter said the so-called “Great Resignation” was fueled by tradesmen who chose early retirement, work from home, or less labor-intensive jobs.
About the BCPC The Brazoria County Petrochemical Council (BCPC) organization is composed of chemical, petrochemical companies and other organizations that manufacture, refine, convert, store, and/or transport energy, basic chemical, or specialty chemical products. The goal of the BCPC is to enhance the well-being of the member company employees, contract employees, their families, and neighbors, here in Brazoria County. The BCPC motto is: Earn the publics’ trust every day.