As natural gas came booming onto the energy scene, it suddenly became much more affordable to fuel large plants and factories. Texas’ Barnett and Eagle Ford shale formations have played a considerable role in the energy boom, especially within Texas itself. Bountiful shale oil and natural gas deposits sit underneath the Lone Star state and are now being tapped with new technologies and techniques. Companies in the area have recently announced close to 100 new chemical projects thanks to the low cost of natural gas. One of these companies is Exxon Mobil, planning a multi-billion dollar expansion of its Baytown chemical production complex.

The sudden skyrocket in chemical production has been great for the local and national economies. However, there is one big problem with the massive growth. The Houston area has thousands of new jobs to fill and not enough skilled workers to do so. Taking matters into its own hands, Exxon decided to help recruit and train these new workers to employ at the newly flourishing chemical plants. The energy giant will be coordinating and helping to fund programs at nine Texas community colleges and organizations to get people trained for these new positions. This is good news for the Texas chemical industry, which could have as many as 46,000 permanent jobs to fill if all new projects are completed. Some experts predict as many as 1.2 million jobs could be added by 2020 as an indirect result of chemical industry expansion. The average salary for a trained and skilled employee of the chemical industry is $86,000.