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Shell opens expanded north shore training center

by Kimberly Quillen, The Times-Picayune

Wednesday December 03, 2008, 5:45 PM

Shell Exploration & Production opened an expanded north shore training center Wednesday that is designed to address the energy industry’s labor shortage.

“In terms of workforce development, having enough qualified people is a problem,” said Frank Glaviano Sr., Shell’s vice president of production. “We’re being proactive about workforce development. It’s not enough to run an ad. You’ve got to go out and get the best people and train them well.” 

Shell’s Robert Training and Conference Center, located in Tangipahoa Parish, already provides a range of energy sector training to about 3,000 students a month. But a $21 million expansion adds 55,000 square feet of space to the facility and doubles the number of students that can be trained, said Tom Broom, Shell’s operations learning and development manager. 

The energy industry is facing a nationwide labor shortage as its workforce ages. Many of the individuals who entered the sector during the boom years of the 1970s are nearing the end of their career. 

“Our industry is maturing,” Broom said. “There will be a lot of retirements in the next decade.” 

Most of the students at the Robert facility are Shell employees. But other companies, including Exxon, Chevron and BP, also use the training facility. 

“We are ultimately one industry, even though we do compete fiercely,” Broom said. “But we want the Gulf of Mexico to be a safe place to work. And a rising tide raises all boats.” 

The expanded facility is also outfitted to act as a command base for the company during tropical storms and hurricanes. 

Gov. Bobby Jindal said training facilities like Shell’s help shore up the state’s workforce, making it an attractive place for companies to do business. 

Workforce issues are among the top two concerns for roughly 70 percent of the state’s business development prospects, Jindal said. 

“Our No. 1 mission as a state is to make Louisiana the best place in the world to get a great education and pursue a rewarding career, so we are keeping more Louisianians here at home,” Jindal said. “Success in this mission starts right here with projects like Shell’s workforce training facility that invest in our people.”

Kim Quillen can be reached at 504.826.3416 or at [email protected] 

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