Students of all ages now have access to craft training programs at Fluor’s new Gulf Coast Training Center, which opened Feb. 23 in Pasadena, Texas.

The center will provide “pre-employment training [in] electrical, instrumentation, millwright and pipefitting disciplines,” says Glenn Gilkey, Fluor executive vice president.

Bringing the center from concept to reality—which included determining the center’s scope and location, hiring training staff and enrolling students—took about a year to accomplish. This new facility represents a multi-million dollar investment for the EPC contractor.

Fluor currently holds a five-year lease on the Pasadena location, which still has plenty of room for potential future expansion.

“These entry level pre-employment training courses are tuition free for the students, who are under no obligation or commitment to work for Fluor. However, we hope the best ones will come to Fluor and that’s part of why we’re doing this as well,” Gilkey adds.

Classes will be held as 12-week programs, with a combination of classroom and hands-on skill training, held Monday through Thursday and led by National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)-certified trainers. Local outreach to high schools, veterans’ organizations and colleges, among others, has helped bring in 42 students to the inaugural class, which is set to graduate on March 10. This includes eight students in electrical, 15 in instrumentation, 12 in pipefitting and seven in millwright. Fluor is currently going through another round of recruitment and selection for the next session of classes, which will start at the end of March. The firm expects to enroll about 15 new students in each discipline. The center also has about 15 students enrolled in welder upgrade training now.

Fluor anticipates training about 300 students a year in Pasadena. Once completing the program, trainees receive industry-recognized entry-level credentials in NCCER core curriculum as well as NCCER level 1 and 2 certifications in their chosen trade, Gilkey says. “We’ve also expanded our pre-employment welder upgrade training program through this location,” he adds.

Pasadena became home to this facility because of its proximity to many of the region’s existing industrial and oil/gas-related facilities—as well as new projects and expansions.

“In the Gulf Coast alone, more than $480 billion is expected to be spent on more than 4,000 projects over next five years—and that is taking into account the low oil and gas prices we see today,” Fluor’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Oosterveer says. “With the number of projects already ongoing, combined with projects that are about to kick off, the U.S. Gulf Coast will require more than 102,000 skilled craft workers in 2017 compared with 91,000 last year.”

The training center is the only location where Fluor is providing entry-level, pre-employment training, but the firm does also provide pre-employment welder upgrade training at one site in Houston, plus after-hours training at its construction sites across the U.S.

“Project positions should really be guided by what’s best for clients’ capital plans, and should not be constrained or impacted by concerns about adequate resources,” Oosteveer adds. “The EPC industry has a responsibility to develop the craft workforce for today and for future opportunities. This training center is an important part of that responsibility.”