The chemical industry has been vocal about how their operations have changed over the years. Technology has changed and, as a result, the skill sets a plant operator must have today have changed through the years as well. That is why Dow St. Charles Operations and neighboring companies have partnered with the Louisiana Technical College -- River Parishes Campus to offer an Associate's Degree in Process Technology (PTEC).
Dow will award two PTEC scholarships worth $3,000 each, for a total of $6,000. These scholarships are available to graduating seniors and mid-career adults who reside in St. Charles Parish. PTEC is the standardized curriculum for a two-year associate of applied science degree that prepares students to work as process technology operators in the chemical and refining industry.
Stanley Dufrene, St. Charles Operations community relations manager, says that Dow's PTEC scholarships are more than just checks --- they are personal invitations to local residents to stay and work right here in Louisiana. He said that, although PTEC scholarships are not guarantees for employment, based on placement rate out of the degree program at the Louisiana Technical College, you can't go wrong.
"Investing in people makes the community and all of our companies stronger," Dufrene said. "A scholarship program like this one is a win-win for everyone. This allows people to stay here and pursue a quality career. And there will be a well-trained workforce available for chemical and refining companies in our area. This kind of relationship and partnering between industry, local residents, and our technical college is what being a good neighbor is all about."
The scholarship program is also part of an overall effort by the Louisiana Chemical Association (LCA) and Career Builders to avoid a worker shortage. About half of all Louisiana process operators are approaching retirement.
Career Builders is a non-profit organization that coaches young people on how to make smarter education and career decisions. Stacey Chiasson, executive director, says that although they have increased student enrollment in the PTEC degree program by 71% over the last three years, industry still needs about double the amount of students currently enrolled in PTEC. "Industry is not guaranteeing you a job if you have a PTEC degree but your chances are better than I've ever seen," says Chiasson.