LAFAYETTE — Job seekers poured into the Cajundome Convention Center by the hundreds Wednesday, looking for oil and gas industry jobs at the second annual LAGCOE job fair.
The number of applicants this year — 1,100 — eclipsed the 1,000 who attended last year’s job fair put on by the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition.
“It has exceeded our expectations,” said Angela Cring, LAGCOE executive director. Cring noted the job fair last year was accompanied by the biennial LAGCOE show, which drew hundreds of oil and gas service company exhibitors.
Young and old, male and female, some with college degrees, others with a little bit of trade-schooling — the applicants ran the gamut.
Jerry Franks, of Breaux Bridge, graduated with a degree in finance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He’s currently working in a grocery store, and he wants more.
“I don’t like to apply online,” he said. “I like to look at and talk to someone.”
Adele Quibodeaux, with New Iberia-based IntegriCert, a load-testing company, said her company was looking for inside and outside sales people, commercial drivers and inspection hands.
“We’re seeing a range of people,” she said.
Dai Nguyen, a human resources director for Houma-based FabCon, said he was looking for crane operators, welder-fitters and galley hands. FabCon had a hiring booth at LAGCOE’s job fair last year. “This year I’m seeing a lot more qualified people,” Nguyen said.
LAGCOE this year carved out 30 minutes early Wednesday to allow military veterans exclusive access to job coaches and hiring companies.
Nguyen said that for military veterans who served overseas, FabCon waived the hiring requirement that applicants have six months’ experience offshore before they’re hired.
“With them serving our country, it’s kind of hard for them to get offshore experience,” he said.
Deonte Pierce, a 23-year-old Carencro resident originally from Natchitoches, was looking for offshore work. Roustabout, or maybe a deckhand, he said.
He’s got six months of welding school under his belt and he’s ready to make some money. On Wednesday, five employers received his résumé.
André Benoit, an electronics technician from Carencro, just got laid off from Schlumberger. “That was unfortunate,” he said. “My boss wanted to keep me, but top management has the say-so.”
The 1,100 who looked for work in Lafayette are a small fraction of the workforce needed to maintain the oil and gas industry, which is seeing its older experienced hands retire and its younger employees take on management roles.
Elise Bouchner, a partner in the Lafayette-based oil and gas leader-development Excelerant, said oil and gas firms are eyeing the “high-potentials,” employees who display a knack and initiative for leadership.
“They’re saying, ‘In 12 months, we need this guy or gal to be a division leader,’ ” Bouchner said.
Excelerant recently partnered with Safety Management Systems — one of the Acadian companies that includes Acadian Ambulance — to create the Energy Leadership Academy, where future executives being groomed by their companies are coached on how to lead.