Forty-Eight Houston Area Graduating Seniors Sign for Full Time Work in the Petrochemical Industry

Signing Day 2022

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.

BCPC Career Signing Day 2022

As college enrollment tanks, there’s a growing push to celebrate students going into skilled trades

From CNBC May 21, 2022

By: Jessica Dickler@JDICKLER

  • Signing Day, when soon-to-be high school graduates pledge to attend a particular college or university, has always been considered a special occasion.
  • Now students who commit to a career in the skilled trades are being celebrated, too.

Brazoria County, Texas, high schools had a record turnout for this year’s Career Signing Day.   Michael Martinez wanted to be an airline pilot. But as he got older, Martinez, now 18, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a professional welder instead. In fact, the senior at Brazoswood High School in Clute, Texas, has already landed a job that will start immediately after graduation. “My dad always wanted me to be in the white-collar class,” he said, but “he’s proud of me.”

Wendy Irwin speaks to the crowd at Career Signing Day 2022
Wendy Irwin speaks to the crowd at Career Signing Day 2022.

In Texas, where Martinez lives, there are a growing number of industrial job openings but fewer people to fill them.

These seniors from Brazoria County, Texas high schools committed to full-time jobs on Career Signing Day, 2022. Photo: Billy Loveless, Brazosport College.

Part of the labor shortage is due to experienced workers aging out of the field, according to Chris Witte, a senior vice president and site leader for BASF, a chemical company in Freeport, Texas.

“We want to grow the talent pool and we want to give students opportunities,” Witte said. “The goal is to show them that these are very good, high-paying jobs.”

To encourage more students to consider careers in the field, Martinez’s school district hosts an annual Career Signing Day.

“This Career Signing Day came out of nowhere,” Martinez said. “I thought I might as well try it.”

More people are accustomed to the fanfare that surrounds signing days, when soon-to-be high school graduates pledge to attend a particular university.

For college-bound athletes headed to big-name schools, these occasions are particularly celebrated among friends, family and the community at large.

Now, school districts are throwing their support and praise behind high schoolers who make a similar commitment to a skilled trade.

“Just as we would celebrate a football player or any other athlete, we want to celebrate just as proudly our skilled tradesmen and women and their decision to pursue a career,” said Chelle Travis, executive director at SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit aimed at connecting students with technical careers.

Michael Martinez on Career Signing Day, 2022.

Michael Martinez on Career Signing Day, 2022. Source: Harold Nicoll




“What they do is essential work.” This spring, more than 1,000 students across 33 states took part in Career Signing Day.

In Brazoria County, just south of Houston, 48 graduating seniors, including Martinez, signed for full-time jobs at one of the chemical and petrochemical companies that make up the Brazoria County Petrochemical Council.

This was Brazoria County’s fourth annual Career Signing Day and by far its most popular. More than twice as many students applied and were hired into full-time positions than last year.

“The response has been phenomenal,” said Aaron Ennis, a committee chair and resource development coordinator for the Brazosport Independent School District. Adrianna Webster on Career Signing Day, 2022.

Adrianna Webster on Career Signing Day, 2022. Source: Harold Nicoll.



“We are on the cusp of being one of the largest signing days up and down the Gulf Coast,” he added. “That’s our goal.” To be considered, students must submit written applications, including an essay, and interview with hiring managers. “We need to know that these applicants are serious about their commitment because they can potentially last an entire career,” Ennis said.

“It is a rigorous process because these jobs represent a substantial investment by the contract and BCPC member companies,” he added, which now includes 25 employers, such as Chevron-Phillips Chemical, Dow, Huntsman and Vencorex.

“I was excited and scared because there were four girls that were [applying] and I wasn’t sure if all, or any, of us would get a job offer,” said Angleton High School senior Adrianna Webster.

Webster, 18, was one of the students offered a full-time position at KCG Industries as a welder, earning $16 an hour. “Nobody in my family has gone to college,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do; I thought welding looked interesting and I was good at it.”

She starts in July, after competing in a national welding competition (Webster is a Texas state welding champion). Increasingly, teenagers are rethinking the value of college.

Amid the heightened demand for workers, rising cost of tuition and growing student loan burden, more students are choosing career-connected pathways over four-year colleges, according to recent reports.

As enrollment falls, skilled trade programs are booming.The likelihood of attending a four-year school sank 20% in the last two years — down to 51%, from 71%, according to ECMC Group, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit. ECMC Group polled more than 5,300 high school students five times since February 2020.

Meanwhile, more than one-third of high school students said they believed a career and technical education could lead them to success. “Today’s students have experienced the pandemic’s impact, and they want to forge their own path — a path that is shorter in duration, more affordable and connects directly to a career — especially a career in a field that needs workers,” said Jeremy Wheaton, ECMC Group’s president and CEO.

A separate study by YouthTruth, which polled more than 22,000 students in the class of 2022, found that more than one-quarter, or 28%, of high school seniors said their plans have changed since the start of the pandemic with fewer students interested in going to college at all.

Proclamation issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott for the Brazoria County Petrochemical Council (BCPC) Career Signing Day.

BCPC Signing day celebrates the most students getting job offers

May 11, 2022

BCPC Career Signing Day

Four dozen Brazoria County high school seniors will walk from the graduation stage this month to a job site after accepting job offers from Brazoria County Petrochemical Council member companies.

The number of hires, spread across 18 companies, was the most in the four years of Career Signing Day, which took place Monday night at Associated Builders and Contractors in Freeport.

The offers for the students to step immediately into a trade followed the BCPC’s interview day April 21, during which each student could speak with four participating companies.

“About 70 students were interviewed and we had about 25 companies that came on board to interview with us, so we did over 280 interviews,” Brazosport ISD CTE Director Jessie Jennings said. “These students are here tonight to be recognized for their hard work and input that they’ve done these last four years. We’re so proud of each and every one of these students and we’re so grateful to the industry representatives.”

ICS Inc. hired the most students for the second year in a row, with seven agreeing to start their careers at the company.

“I’ve been involved with it since the start, and so we try to make sure we try to get as many of them as we can,” ICS General Manager Ray Lopez said. “They have to keep the position. We give them the job, but they have to work at it. This is helpful because there are not enough people. We hired seven people. It’s going to teach them about life because they’ve been sheltered. This gives them a different outlook. It will teach them a lot about life.”

Using the BCPC program and taking advantage of the growth of Career and Technical Education education in public schools benefits both the student and company, said Aaron Ennis, resource development director for Brazosport ISD who also serves as workforce development chairman for the BCPC.

“One thing I want to point out is that it couldn’t be done without the backbone of our community — contractors and all of the organizations that are willing to hire, train and educate the students,” he said. “With CTE, I believe it’s starting to hit the mainstream where our companies are starting to recognize that as a recruiting field for the future talent.”

Two of the new ICS hires were Angleton High School students Miguel Mendez and Andrew Lanzas.

“This is the greatest opportunity ever,” Lanzas said. “I’m glad I got the job offer. It’s amazing we get to start off this early with jobs this good. Also thinking about college, of course; that’s a big thing. I’m going to go bigger and make more money. That’s the goal.”

Learning to weld at the BCPC Welding Academy. Photo courtesy of The Facts.

BCPC Completes One Million Dollar College Lab Donation

A One Million Dollar Commitment Completed

As it first appeared in The Facts.

Million Dollar Welding Lab
The members of the BCPC contributed a total of one million dollars to Brazosport College for its Welding Lab.

The BCPC Completes One Million Dollar College Lab Donation. As a part of its ongoing commitment to the area’s workforce development, members of th

e Brazoria County Petrochemical Council recently completed their pledge to donate $1 million to the Welding Technologies Lab at Brazosport College. It is now officially known as the Brazoria County Petrochemical Council Welding Lab.

The donation to the BCPC Welding Technologies Lab, and support of local industry partners, has spawned new momentum for training and certification in the petrochemical trades. Brazosport College and the members of the BCPC are engaged in collaborative efforts to enhance the pipeline of students with dual credit classes, career and technology centers, plus other collaborative efforts, including the Veterans Career and Resource Fair, Signing Day and the Women in Industry Conference.

“Our members want to help develop and recruit local residents for lifelong careers in the petrochemical industry,” said Chris Witte, BASF senior vice president and chairman of the BCPC’s Workforce Development Committee. “These are positions with excellent pay and benefits that can support families, allow them to stay in the area, or take their skills to other parts of the country.”

Stop the drop

Brazoria County Petrochemical Council Emphasizes Prevention of Injuries Due from Dropped Objects

Brazoria County Petrochemical Council Emphasizes Prevention of Injuries Due from Dropped Objects

There are more than 50,000 “struck by falling object” OSHA recordable injuries every year in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Preventing these types of injuries in the workplace motivated approximately 200 professionals to spend an afternoon at the Brazoria County Petrochemical Council (BCPC) Environment Health & Safety (EH&S) Committee’s ‘Stop the Drop’ safety symposium.

Dropped Objects
The damage a falling sledgehammer does to a hard hat illustrates the potential for injury on the job caused by dropped objects at the BCPC Environment Health & Safety (EH&S) Committee’s ‘Stop the Drop’ safety symposium.

This was the BCPC EH&S committee’s first safety related event. It took place May 19, 2022, at the ABC Texas Gulf Coast located in Freeport, TX. Alex Martinez from Brock Group and Michael Gill from Turner Industries presented the latest and best information available on dropped objects injury prevention to the industry professionals present. Later, a meaningful Q&A session was held with the audience and panel members from BCPC owner and contractor companies.

BCPC Motives

The members of the BCPC have one primary goal; to collaborate with each other and our community so that we earn the public’s trust every day. The dropped objects safety symposium and other activities from the BCPC are to always act as good neighbors. “The BCPC membership works and behaves in socially responsible ways so that everyone who works inside member facilities goes home in the same condition in which they arrived every day,” according to Paul Spinks, Shintech’s Freeport, TX site leader and president of the BCPC. “This event helps define what this group of petrochemical companies are about, to engage in the best, safest ways to work that preserves everyone’s health and safety.”

Prevention as the Remedy

Those annual “struck by falling object” OSHA recordables equate to one injury caused by a fallen item every 10 minutes. This level of risk is on par with the consequences of other petrochemical industry hazards like

confined space entry. Working at heights should receive the same attention. “The members of the EH&S committee chose dropped object prevention because it is a common risk that we all face,” said Dirk Perrin, plant manager for Chevron Phillips Chemical in Sweeny, TX and chair of the BCPC EH&S Committee. “There is value learning from each other to eliminate this hazard.”

Good Housekeeping Prevents Hazards and Injuries

Activity in elevated spaces will often result in tools and materials left behind on scaffolding. “An emphasis on housekeeping at raised levels prevents things from accidentally being kicked off an elevated platform,” Perrin said. “Objects that fall can bounce up, impact, or ricochet off other surfaces while falling, posing a threat to people who are working in adjacent areas.”

Dropped Objects Injury Prevention

Considering the millions of scaffolding parts, tools, and materials at elevated heights in facilities, there are many opportunities for a dropped object to come in contact with a person.  “There is no level of caution that is too much effort for dropped object prevention,” Perrin said.

Consider the Following When Planning Elevated Work

With prevention in mind these steps will aid those working off the ground:

  • Place nets around and underneath scaffolds to ‘catch’ things that drop straight down.
  • Use tethers on tools that could slip out of someone’s hand.
  • Put barricades around areas where items could fall and ricochet.
  • Keep the worksite tidy, both on and off the ground. Tidiness also eliminates tripping hazards on the ground and above.
  • Do not wait. Immediately retrieve anything left on the ground or on a scaffold.
  • Make dropped object injury prevention part of job planning and hazard evaluation/recognition activities.

“If these simple steps are followed, then the number of injuries due to falling objects will definitely decrease,” Perrin concluded. “It is up to each of us to be mindful of where we are while at work and especially when working on a scaffold.”

About the BCPC

The Brazoria County Petrochemical Council (BCPC) comprises twenty-four companies with manufacturing, storage and/or transportation operations in Brazoria County, Texas. The BCPC was formed in the mid-1980’s as an informal meeting group of local plant managers. The group’s operation is now more formal. Brazoria County is located just south of Houston, TX. To learn more, go to the BCPC Facebook, LinkedIn or at


BCPC Signing Day Students Who Signed

BCPC Signing Day Students Who Signed

In spite of the global Covid-19 pandemic and challenging economic conditions, the members of the Brazoria County Petrochemical Council (BCPC) hosted their third annual ‘Signing Day’ where 19 local graduating seniors learned about their future careers working in the petrochemical manufacturing industry. Nineteen  graduating local seniors ‘signed’ with contract companies for on-the-job training, education, experience, and pay while working inside BCPC member company sites here in southern Brazoria County. With a record number of applicants compared to the first two years, these are the most students the BCPC has named at once in the history of ‘signing day.’

Those chosen will learn on the job, be paid, and trained right out of high school for lifelong careers. Upon completion, each will be qualified for skilled trades and/or plant operating positions.  BCPC members are committed to hiring qualified local people when possible. This program results in trained local people to work locally, though the skills and experience gained are transferable.

There is a significant need among BCPC members and allied contracting companies for trained, full-time employees. A well trained, motivated and accessible workforce is key to the continued growth of all BCPC member companies. A commitment to education, training and jobs for these students demonstrates the deep commitment the BCPC has for the people here.

Students ‘signing’ are from: Alvin High School, Angleton High School, Brazosport High School, Brazoswood High School, Columbia High School, Danbury High School, and Sweeny High School respectively.

Contract companies accepting signees are: KCG, Top Coat, Turner Industries, Wood, and Zachary, respectively.

Tbe 2021 BCPC Signees

Rudy Almanza, Angleton High School, Top Coat

David Chavez, Brazoswood High School, Turner Industries

Ivan Echartea, Brazoswood High School, Wood

Brandon Fritts, Brazoswood High School, Top Coat

Adrian Gonzales, Brazosport High School, KCG

Roman Hernandez, Brazosport High School, Wood

Ryan Hlavaty, Danbury High School, Wood

Josiah Hogan, Columbia High School, Wood

Jeremy Jackson, Brazosport High School, Zachry

Gabriel Martinez, Angleton High School, Turner Industries

Oscar Mendez, Brazoswood High School, Zachry

Zachery Peterson, Sweeny High School, Wood

Mya Ramos, Brazoswood High School, Zachry

Fischer Saha, Danbury High School, Wood

Jeremiah Sykes, Sweeny High School, Wood

Marqus Vasquez, Brazosport High School, Zachry

Cristian Virrueta, Brazosport High School, Turner Industries

Samuel Zapata, Angleton High School, KCG

Herman Zavala, Brazoswood High School, Wood

Scholarship Winners

Bryan Castro, Brazosport High School

David Chavez, Brazoswood High School

Jeremy Jackson, Brazosport High School

Gabriel Martinez, Angleton High School

Oscar Mendez, Brazoswood High School

Jeremiah Sykes, Sweeny High School

Cristian Virrueta, Brazosport High School

Samuel Zapata, Angleton High School


Signing Day 2021

Third BCPC signing day ‘only the beginning’

A record number of applicants, scholarships and jobs at the 2021 Signing Day.

From The Facts newspaper May 18, 2021.

CLUTE — Third BCPC Signing Day only the beginning. Josiah Hogan and his family were excited for him to sign with the Wood Group.                                                                                                                         

“Just the opportunities that he’ll have,” mom Trina Hogan said.

They know he’ll do great, dad Ron said.

Josiah Hogan was one of eight graduating seniors to sign with the consulting and engineering company at its Clute office during the Brazoria County Petrochemical Council’s third annual Signing Day on May 10.

“This year we were able to have a record of 38 students that applied for the signing day through our county, and we were fortunate enough that we were able to find 19 of them jobs,” said Aaron Ennis, co-chair of the council’s workforce development committee and chairman of the signing day outreach. “The other 19 — they’re still on our list when companies call.”

Brazoswood High School’s Ivan Echartea signs with the Wood Group during Brazoria County Petrochemical Council’s Signing Day on May 10, 2021. Photo credit The Facts/Prentice C. James Special to the facts.

Unable to have the traditional large gathering because of COVID-19, this year’s Signing Day took place at several companies throughout the day and culminated in a virtual Zoom program in the evening incorporating a handful of speakers, including company representatives and Kelley Cope from Associated Builders and Contractors.

Eight students were awarded $1,000 scholarships from Associated Builders and Contractors to attend Brazosport College and continue craft training, Cope said.

Each of the 38 students who applied for Signing Day were guaranteed two interviews, and every student did an excellent job, Turner Industries Workforce Development Manager Carla Thompson said.

“There wasn’t a student I talked to over the last couple of weeks that didn’t impress me, and what I want you to know is, we wish we could hire all of you,” she said.

Turner urged them to continue learning and to continue checking in for new job opportunities.

“A lot of us have jobs that are gonna come up this summer,” she said. “Call all the companies that are part of this Signing Day, keep track of who they are, call their hiring offices a couple times a week and harass the daylights out of them.”

State Rep. Cody Vasut, R-Angleton, was scheduled to address attendees as well, but the House was still in session and he was unable to participate.

Participating organizations included BASF, Contech Services, Dow, KCG Industrial, Norrell, Olin, Phillips 66, Top Coat, Turner Industries, Wood and Zachry, said Jessie Jennings, director of career and technical education for Brazosport ISD.

“At least one or more students from each school was able to sign on with these organizations,” Jennings said. “I love the way it shook out to where each school is represented tonight.”

Each student who signed on with a company May 10 will start work as early as the summer. They’ll make good money, have good benefits and build connections — and ultimately have a future in local industry, Ennis said.

The future is bright for CTE and for industry in Brazoria County, too.

“Next year will also be a record year,” he said. “I can go on record and say that now, with the pace we’re moving, this event will only continue to grow up and down the Gulf Coast.”

Before closing the presentation, Ennis congratulated the signees and encouraged them to have the courage to be a beginner.

“Everyone on this call at one point or another, I can guarantee you, has been a beginner,” he said. “Sooner or later you won’t be a beginner, and you’ll be passing around your knowledge to other people. … If you continue to have courage and embrace being a beginner, it isn’t the end. Third BCPC Signing Day only the beginning. It’s only the beginning.”

Corinna Richardson is the content editor for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0150.


American Chemical Council (ACC) on Preventing the Spread of Covid-19

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is one of the sponsors of the “Help Prevent Spread of COVID-19” poster seen here. The poster encourages everyone to clean surfaces that are touched a lot.


To read all the background and keep up to date on everything the ACC is doing to help provide resources to address and fight the impact of COVID-19 please click the link here: American Chemistry Council COVID-19 Resource Page

These and other industry and government resources will feature prominently on the BCPC web site while this health crisis remains. We hope that everyone remains safe and well today and every day.