Chevron Phillips Chemical CEO Says Petrochemical Industry Needs Skilled Workers, Emphasizes Technical Career Paths

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – (April 1, 2014) – The most significant constraint facing petrochemical industry growth sparked by shale resource development is the availability of technically skilled workers to build, operate and maintain the $100 billion of announced chemical projects, according to Peter L. Cella, president and chief executive officer of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP (Chevron Phillips Chemical).

During a “Workforce Development” panel discussion at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ International Petrochemical Conference in San Antonio, Texas, Cella said that industry projections show the need for nearly 90,000 craft workers in 2015 when industry builds the chemical and other related projects along the U.S. Gulf Coast. This includes Chevron Phillips Chemical’s U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) Petrochemicals Project, which is expected to create 400 long-term jobs as well as 10,000 construction and engineering jobs spanning the length of the project.

“While we will continue to need college graduates with various engineering, accounting, marketing, IT and scientific degrees, our most acute need is for welders, pipefitters, riggers, operators, instrument technicians and other craftspersons, all with two-year degrees or certifications,” said Cella.  “For many high school graduates, choosing a technical vocation can be an attractive career path because it provides a great salary and benefits without the significant financial burden of pursuing a four-year degree.” 

The average four-year degree comes with a hefty price tag with debt relating to student loans topping $1 trillion in 2013, which is the second largest form of household debt after mortgages, according to College Board and Census data. “We need to do a better job educating our nation’s young people about the viable and rewarding career pathways for those who opt for occupations that require less formal, and less expensive academic training,” said Cella.

During the panel discussion, Cella highlighted the high wages these positions can make. Top-paid hourly operating or maintenance craft employees in Chevron Phillips Chemical’s domestic manufacturing plants, who work overtime in a given year, may earn in total compensation an estimated $90-$100,000.

In parallel, Chevron Phillips Chemical anticipates hiring more than 2,800 employees over the next 6 years to support company growth plans as it faces a surge in demand for these skilled workers to replace a wave of retirements. “This is a very exciting time for the country, the petrochemical industry, and my company so it’s important that we reach out to those seeking employment and an interesting career path to inform them of the significant opportunities available to them,” said Cella.