St. Charles Parish chemical companies have a surplus of high paying jobs, and to fill them, company officials are recruiting students before they graduate from high school.
Spokesmen for Motiva and also for Dow Chemical Company say the positions pay $40,000-$100,000 a year.
And to get them, all a prospective employee needs by way of education is a two-year associates degree in the technology field.
Gary Cambre, of Dow, says Destrehan and Hahnville high schools offer special “Process Technology Training” classes to encourage students to choose careers in the plants.
“We work closely with schools to get students to sign up for the training program,” Cambre continues.
“Once they’ve completed it, we keep track of the ones the instructors identify as making the top scores in the class.
“These students are almost always hired at the plant.”
Cambre says fears that the plants are unsafe are unfounded. He points out that training classes and full safety equipment are issued to all employees.
“There are 1,600 employees at the St. Charles facility and an additional 1,500 that work for the plant but are contracted through other companies,” Cambre told the Herald-Guide.
Dow hired 101new workers last year, and as of February, 50 additional employees are working at the plant.
"As tenured workers retire in March and April, we have to fill additional positions," says Cambre.
"We hold new-hire classes that teach employees about safety and what to do in case an emergency in the plant.”
A proposed expansion at Motiva’s plant in Port Arthur, Texas would employ 250-350 new operators. Up to 5,000 construction workers will be needed during the building stage. Anticipated start-up date: 2010.
Motiva spokesman Rick Strausse says refinery workers are taught safety every day.
“Some of our workers are coming right out of college or technical school,” Strausse says.
“A lot of them have jitters just like anyone else starting their first day of work, but once they complete training classes they realize how safe they are.”RELATED STORY: The careers parish teens dream about - and why ...
Herald-Guide intern Nattie Swan, a student at Destrehan High School, asked five parish teenagers:What is your career choice? How did you arrive at that decision?
Here are the answers:
Chelsey Dargis, St. Rose: I want to be a therapist for children with mental disabilities. My neighbor has autism and he is my favorite man in the world. I also taught an autistic boy how to swim.
Meghann Mehrtens, Destrehan: I want to be a psychologist. I want to be able to help people with the problems they have.
Cayse Kingsmill, Destrehan: I want a career in elementary education. I had a hard time with school myself so I figure I’ll help other people like me.
Michael Hotard, Destrehan: I want to be a sports broadcaster. I've always been a big sports fan and I’ve always idolized the people that can talk about sports the way broadcasters do. - Michael Hotard, Destrehan
Eddie Simpson, St. Rose: I want to be a computer technician. I like working on and programming computers.