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SCHRIEVER, La. -- BP is giving $2.25 million in grants to six Louisiana technical colleges over the next three years to improve their math and science sectors, according to a report in the Tri-Parish Times.
The move was inspired in part by what BP executives called "the great crew change," as a major portion of its workforce nears retirement. "Over the next few years, we estimate 40 percent of our offshore workforce will be ready to retire. If production is going to continue, let alone expand like we need it to, we need to not only replace those retirees, but we've got to increase the workforce," said BP Senior Vice President James Dupree.
"A challenge of this magnitude wasn't going to solve itself. We needed a strategic approach. The petrotechnical partnership, which we're announcing today, is a result of that."
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Charlie Melancon were on hand to promote an expanded partnership between private industry and education, the newspaper reported.
"When I was here for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of this building, it struck me that perhaps stronger partnership between our industry and our state, and if we took some initiatives that the federal government could come up with, we could give our people the opportunity they need to earn a wage that could lift them well into the middle class and beyond," Landrieu said.
The announcement at BP's Operations Learning Center came as welcome news to an education system that's been subject to several rounds of budget cuts in recent years.
"As a country, what BP is doing here, and what other companies are doing around the country, is the partnering that America has always needed. Government can't do everything for everybody all the time," Melancon said.
The donations were prompted by the increasingly technological nature of the oil field industry. Finding new pockets of oil in the Gulf is driven by technology and requires a well-educated workforce. "The best technology in the world is useless without skilled people trained to get the best out of the technology, and that's what the people of Louisiana can do," Dupree said.
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