“In recent years, we have seen record growth at Port Houston and throughout the Houston Ship Channel complex. The maritime workforce remains essential to the ongoing success and stability of our region. Port Houston is committed to supporting the development of a robust maritime workforce, and our Maritime Education Program exists for this purpose,” states Roger Guenther, Executive Director of Port Houston.
More than half of the region’s maritime workers are age 50 or older and quickly approaching retirement. There is a growing need for talent in all areas of maritime and industry-related occupations, including transportation, logistics and supply chain management, environmental, security, emergency management and various positions with ocean-going carriers.
In 2009, Port Houston recognized the increasing demand for a work-ready maritime labor pool and brought together key stakeholders to address that need and help revitalize the maritime workforce. Through these efforts, maritime academy programs were developed at local high schools, colleges, and universities.
Jacquie Young-Hall, manages the Maritime Education Outreach Program at Port Houston. She states, “Over the last decade, Port Houston has invested more than $5 million dollars in maritime education through collaboration with local academic partners. We focus on introducing an increasing number of youth and young adults to various port-related career opportunities and encourage higher education learning in maritime, logistics and other industry-related fields of study. Additionally, we maintain working partnerships between industry and academic institutions to create relevant education programming that is consistent with industry needs.”
Originally the Maritime Education program started with 250 students at two high schools within the Houston Independent School District. Today, thanks to the help of many maritime industry partners, there are six high schools and seven colleges and universities with active maritime education and workforce development programs ranging from certificates to four-year degrees. There are nearly 1,000 students currently enrolled, and more than 1,200 graduates of these maritime programs since its inception.
This same group of stakeholders also helped form a non-profit organization, called the Port of Houston Partners in Maritime Education Program (PHPME). This foundation includes 60+ industry, academic, business organizations, and federal partners who can directly help students continued their advancement in the maritime industry.
Myles Delgado, Captain with the Galveston-Texas City Pilots states, “I wasn’t sure where I would go or what I would do after high school but ultimately I got accepted into the maritime program at San Jacinto College. My high school teacher, Mr. Cecil Gray, helped me realize that maritime is where I could be successful and love what I do.”
Anthony Flenoy, Barbours Cut Terminal Facility Security Manager at Port Houston states, “I had heard about the maritime industry before I decided to attend Texas Southern University, but after being exposed to the industry and to the curriculum I just knew that’s where I needed to be.”
To learn more or get involved with Port Houston’s Education Outreach initiatives, contact 713-670-2806 or MaritimeEd@porthouston.com.