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Oil industry looks to equip new workers with well-paying jobs, without debt

Oil rig in Galveston Bay, Texas

(The Center Square) – Texas officials are formulating a plan that would help college students go to school without incurring debt, and land them a high-income job in the oil and gas industry after graduation.

Wayne Christian, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the state’s oil industry, told FOX Business the program would be key to staffing in the Permian Basin, located in West Texas and New Mexico, site of a vast oil discovery in 2016.

“Chairman Christian’s proposal is a smart solution to address growing workforce needs for the domestic oil and gas industry by making these careers even more attractive to students,” Jason Modglin, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, told The Center Square by email.

The oil sector is currently amid a “Great Crew Change,” Modglin said, citing a 2015 estimate that showed 50 percent of industry workers would be eligible to retire within 10 years.

“The professionals retiring today brought Texas back to being a leading producer in the world and their talent and passion for this industry will not be easily replaced,” Modglin said.

“That is why it is so important to reach out to the next generation and let them know the good that production of Texas oil and gas does to reduce energy costs, improve global air quality by replacing dirtier fuels, and employ hundreds of thousands of Texans with good paying jobs,” he added.

The industry is seeing demand steadily rise from historic lows caused by the COVID-19 economic downturn, which took hold as Russian and Saudi oil producers unleashed huge supplies amid a price war.

“Although we face challenging and uncertain times, our industry has proven nimble and innovative in the past, and we remain confident we can do so now,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, said in an email response to The Center Square.

“Recognizing the industry’s importance in both equipping Texans with jobs and the world with energy, we appreciate Chairman’s Christian’s efforts to strengthen and enhance workforce development throughout our state,” Staples added.

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