Houston Community College to launch training center for rig workers

Houston Community College announced Thursday that it’s planning to create a Global Oil and Gas Drilling Training Center, an initiative to address a critical shortage of skilled oil and gas workers by changing how rig crews are recruited and developed.

The school said it worked with drilling companies to develop a two-week program that enhances traditional training for rig worker with life-like experiences. The school expects to break ground this fall on construction of a rig safety and skills laboratory, called RIG-ONE, on its Northeast Campus, which will orient workers for offshore and onshore drilling environments.

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The program will provide training to safely work around cranes, forklifts and air tuggers, the college said. It also will give workers skills in material handling, tank cleaning, working with hand tools and other key rig jobs.  Safety procedures in firefighting, helicopter underwater evacuation, and basic first aid also are incorporated into the program.

Classes are expected to begin in the spring of 2014, targeting high school seniors and returning veterans, among others seeking new careers in the oil and gas industry.

“The RIG-One Experience is a visionary collaboration of industry experts and college educators to induct new employees into the world of drilling who are retainable, promotable and safety conscious,” said Renee Byas, HCC acting chancellor.  “We are excited about the industry being able to offer thousands of new jobs to people right here in Houston, Texas.”

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The school hopes to expand the program for more advanced and specialty training in the future, to train drillers and floorhands, and is considering offering a two-year associate’s degree in drilling.

Diamond Offshore Drilling CEO and President Larry Dickerson said the industry must hire 24,000 new workers to staff planned projects over the next few years.

“Diamond Offshore and other drilling contractors have worked with HCC education experts over the past year to create a program that produces better trained candidates for the drilling industry of the future,” Dickerson said in a written statement.

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