Despite oil bust, Texas ramps up efforts to train more high school students for industry jobs

HOUSTON – The oil industry is mired in its latest bust. But in Texas, education officials are working harder than ever to prepare more young people for the oilfield.

Their commitment shows the state’s unshakeable commitment to the energy sector and its willingness to gamble that good jobs that evaporated into layoffs over the last year will return.

The Houston school district is preparing to expand its first-in-the-nation Energy Institute High School from 250 students to 1,000 students by 2017, and inaugurate a new 110,000 square-foot, $37 million facility.

In Midland, in the oil-rich Permian Basin, two high schools have begun “petroleum academies.”

And state officials have also approved vocational oil production classes, thus authorizing schools districts across Texas to teach them.