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KPC Process Tech Students Prepare for Rise in Oil and Gas Industry hiring

Two People standing in front of a Process Tech Simulator

A hiring renaissance is under way in Alaska’s oil and gas industry, and current enrollment in KPC’s process tech program is expected to be unable to meet the hiring demand for the next few years.

After years of low oil prices and slow hiring, the demand for a trained workforce is accelerating. The process technology degree trains students in durable, legacy jobsoperating a process facility, flow station or pipeline.

Regardless of the volume or price of crude oil or gas produced, the number of operators needed to run a facility remains steady. Hiring operators is linked to vacancies in the operations staffing, and current high stock market values have improved 401Ks and given seasoned operators reason to retire.

Recent restructuring of the North Slope, with Hilcorp acquiring BP assets, has also presented operators an opportunity to consider retirement. Additionally, there are number of process projects that are under construction and will require operators in the near future.

At the Feb. 5 meeting of the KPC Process Technology Operator’s Club and Advisory Committee meeting, which was sponsored by ConocoPhillips, a room full of students listened to industry representatives who strongly emphasized recruitment for both immediate employment and opportunities coming later this spring.

ConocoPhillips reps went over their projects and their sizable need for employees; Schlumberger held on- site interviews throughout the afternoon, seeking potential employees; a Peak rep told students to begin now submitting resumes for multiple projects and springtime jobs; and a Big G Electric rep was recruiting applicants for upcoming projects during the informal gathering following the business meeting.

Henry Haney, KRC associate professor of process technology, said, “Most Alaskans are not aware of the change that is happening in the oil and gas industry throughout Alaska. The biggest hurdle KPC faces is, even with recruiting, not being able to supply enough graduates to fill the positions that are already beginning to become available.”

KPC’s process technology program offers a two-year degree consisting of 21 different classes offered at KRC. Most of the classes can also be taken online; however, a few hands-on lab activities must be done on campus. These labs are offered in a lab-intensive delivery method to minimize a student’s trips to campus. Working adults, North Slope workers, or people who do not live close to campus have been able to successfully complete the program.

A 2014 research study by the Institute of Social and Economic Research [ISER] determined that the highest paid degree offered by the UA system, with more than 85 percent of graduates still working in the industry five years after graduation, is the process technology degree.

For more informationm, call (907)262-0300.

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