Veterans offered oilfield training opportunity
MORGAN CITY, La. — About a year ago an “overqualified” veteran, who had gone through multiple tours of duty in Iraq, paid to attend South Central Louisiana Technical College for certification to get a job in the oilfield industry, according to Earl Meador, regional director for the college.
Meador thought there must be a better way to train veterans who had already sacrificed for their country.
Utilizing the college’s partnership with PEC, a Mandeville safety company the college uses in many of its certifications, Meador began looking for a way to help veterans obtain good-paying jobs and companies that hire disciplined employees who are already accustomed to working extended shifts away from home.
Battlefields to Oilfields on the Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City was the product of that mission. It is a pilot program paid in full with Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to prepare returning veterans for careers in the oil and gas industry.
“We already had a training program in place with 20 certifications for civilians,” said Danny Eaker, a PEC recruiter. “We always wanted to help the veterans and the oil companies want to hire veterans. So we came up with this five-week program that has 51 certifications.”
The first class graduated Monday morning and a little more than an hour later, the seven graduated veterans were being interviewed for jobs with several oilfield-related companies.
“I met with these students in the first week and identified what they would like to do along with their goals and objectives,” said Sandra Tolleson, a PEC career and guidance counselor. She said she collaborated with them in writing their resumes and discussed how they should present themselves in the interview process after graduation.
“I want the students to be able to translate their skills and abilities into ways that they can sell themselves” during the interviews, she said.
Meador said that the program is training the veterans for good-paying jobs and putting them on a lifelong career path that is good for the veterans and their employers.
“Military people are used to schedules where they work away from their family for a long time and they are team oriented,” Tolleson said as she explained some of the reasons these graduates are sought by employers. “Many are already team leaders. They are safety conscious and they stay until a job is done,” she said shortly before Monday’s four-hour job placement session.
Program graduates received five weeks of intensive training with classroom study and hands-on practical exercises to earn certifications, according to Eaker.
Tolleson, who is also a rehabilitation counselor, said that PEC anticipates beginning vocational testing for future classes to help place students in sectors in which they can best perform and to work with students who have a disability so they can be trained and employed.
The next training session is expected to begin in June with 12 students who began taking physicals Monday. Eaker said that it is possible there will be two classes running concurrently by the fall.