Area industries support San Jacinto, Lee colleges with scholarship funds
12.19.2014 | By Rob Vanya
The East Harris County Manufacturers Association golf tournament raised more than $150,000 to be donated equally to San Jacinto College and Lee College for scholarships. Pictured at the check presentation are, from left: Cathy Culpepper, EHCMA board member; Craig Beskid, EHCMA executive director; Todd Monette, EHCMA board chair; Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College chancellor; Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College president; and James Griffin, EHCMA board member. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
The East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA) recently held a golf tournament and auction at Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Mont Belvieu that raised more than $150,000 in scholarship funds to be divided equally between San Jacinto College and Lee College, local colleges that provide workforce training for area petrochemical companies.
Craig Beskid, EHCMA executive director, said area companies get a solid return on investment by supporting San Jacinto College and Lee College. “The greatest benefit is the increase in educated and trained workers available for employment for the specific needs of the region,” he commented. “EHCMA member companies have seen an increase in enrollment in education and training programs and increases in applications from graduates of the two colleges.”
He said workforce training is one of the most pressing needs of East Harris County in order to have skilled employees needed for projected job openings. “Between January 2015 and December 2019, approximately 11,430 direct employees and resident contractors hires in the combined operations, maintenance, and engineering occupations will be needed to replace attrition and fill newly created positions in the region,” Beskid remarked.
He said there is a direct correlation between the training provided by the two colleges and the economic growth of East Harris County. “San Jacinto College and Lee College have been excellent partners in education and training for this region for many years, and the petrochemical sector specifically,” Beskid commented. “Both are an essential part of this regional effort. The education and training offered is much less time-intensive, and much more affordable than what is available at universities. It leads to good paying careers quickly. The petrochemical sector needs this pool of workers for the future.”
Beskid said that projections indicate that the combined employee attrition and retirement rate in the area petrochemical sector is expected to be approximately 8 percent through 2019. “To address this employee attrition and retirement rate, employers need workers with education, aptitude, strong work ethic, and training,” he stated.
Ruth Keenan, San Jacinto College Foundation executive director, said the funds raised in the EHCMA event will open doors of opportunity for students and will bring lasting rewards for the community. “Thank you to the industries that coordinated the very successful golf tournament and auction,” she said. “Such positive partnerships between businesses and colleges help East Harris County continue to thrive and prosper. We hope that the EHCMA golf tournament can become an ongoing tradition to benefit petrochemical companies, as well as the scholarship recipients who will soon be working in local plants.”
Dr. Allatia Harris, San Jacinto College vice chancellor of strategic initiatives, workforce development, community relations, and diversity, said it is imperative for industry and colleges to work closely together in order to prepare for the future. “San Jacinto College and Lee College have been preparing workers for the petrochemical industry for over 30 years,” she said. “Because of retirements and the expansion of the plants in our region, the demand for trained workers has never been greater. Our job is to help our community members acquire the skills they need to enter meaningful and lucrative careers, and in doing so, meet industry demands for a well-trained workforce.”
Scholarships that help students receive workforce training at San Jacinto College can make a significant impact. Thomas Kozuch is attending San Jacinto College as a full-time student, thanks to a process technology scholarship awarded him by the San Jacinto College Foundation. He will earn a process technology associate degree from the College in May, and already has a promising lead on a job with Exxon-Mobil. “I just passed Exxon-Mobil’s battery test, and my grade point average is 3.9, so my job prospects are looking very promising,” Kozuch commented. “The Foundation scholarship made it all possible, because it removed a huge financial burden. I had been paying my way through college, and it’s very hard to work full-time and to try to be a full-time student. Because of the scholarship, I have been able to devote more time and attention to schoolwork. So, the scholarship has been a great benefit.”
The East Harris County Manufacturers Association is an alliance of more than 130 chemical manufacturers, refiners and supporting distribution facilities in Baytown, Deer Park, Houston, La Porte, North Channel and Pasadena. Since inception more than 20 years ago, EHCMA has grown into the largest network of its kind in the world. Member companies transform natural resources into materials needed to make consumer products such as cosmetics, gasoline, jet fuel, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, electronics, building supplies, household goods, clothes, plastics, automobile parts and thousands of other everyday items. For more information, please visit EHCMA.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.