The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has awarded $1.3 million to the Alamo, Coastal Bend, Laredo, South Texas Junior and Victoria Colleges to train and educate workers for the Eagle Ford Shale oil and natural gas boom.
"It's going to train up to 800 individuals to go to work very quickly and be able to make a living wage and be able to make a living wage and support their families and help improve the Texas economy,” said THECB Commissioner Raymund Paredes.
Paredes says there are many jobs that require skilled workers and too few appropriately trained employees nationally, but the phenomenon of Eagle Ford Shale only highlights that gap.
"It's something that higher education is very concerned about,” he said.
The money comes both from federal and state sources, which the THECB had to write grants to acquire.
Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie says social issues have arisen due to the Eagle Ford Shale successes.
"A lot of people have been left out of the opportunity to make a quick buck, get jobs that are frankly well paid because they're under educated or they have limited language skills,” he said.
The president of the Eagle Ford Shale Consortium, Leodoro Martinez, said in a statement that he looks forward to the colleges enrolling students that are often overlooked for training because of their socioeconomic status.