Shell Oil Makes a Difference in Communities Across the Nation

BE Smart talks with Frazier Wilson, VP of Shell Oil Co. Foundation

(Image: Shell Oil Co.)
(Image: Shell Oil Co.)

When you think of Shell Oil, the global energy company, you probably don’t think of high school teachers and students, math and science education, or community college or technical schools.

Yet, through its workforce development and community initiatives, these are among the main areas in which Shell has made broad investments.

“Workforce is the key to our overall success and to the success of the energy industry,” says Frazier Wilson, vice president of the Shell Oil Co. Foundation and manager, Workforce and Strategic Community Initiatives.

In 2004, the Shell U.S. Leadership Team formed the Workforce Development Initiative group as a proactive approach to help address Shell’s anticipated shortage of technical talent due to the impending retirements of  “baby boomers.”

Additionally, as advancements in technology continue at a rapid pace, the need for technical talent has become more critical in our industry and across other industries. It is imperative that we make investments in colleges and universities today, to help educate students so that they are capable of generating new ideas and developing new technologies to improve the quality of life for the next generation.

Additional factors affecting the talent pool:

  • Workforce:

o   By 2018, it is projected that 63% of all jobs in the U.S. economy will require postsecondary education.

  • Math and Science Education:  U.S. students ranked 27th in math and 20th in science according to the 2012 results of PISA, the Programme for International Student Assessment.
  • Higher Education: 38% of U.S. college students who start with a STEM major do not graduate with one.

People of color and women have been and are still underrepresented in these fields. Furthermore, people of color are the fastest growing population in the U.S. As we seek to attract people of color who are trained in STEM, we are drawing from a small percentage of a shrinking pool.

And although women currently constitute 48% percent of the U.S. workforce, only 24% are employed in STEM careers, with fewer than 15% employed as engineers.

It’s not only leadership in the energy sector that will be at risk, but also our competitive edge in medicine, research, technology, and other pillars of the American economy. Without improving demographic representation in the STEM fields, we have little chance of meeting our future needs.

Shell wants to make sure there’s a talent pipeline from which it can hire, so it is investing in the skill development of today’s youth. 

“Through partnerships with non-profit organizations, we invest in programs for middle and high school students to help them make the connection from what they are learning in the classroom to real-world applications. They are exposed and introduced to technical career paths and have the opportunity to learn and practice the soft skills critical to employers, such as communication and teamwork.

“As students matriculate to college, we support their development through internships and scholarship opportunities. Once they become interns or employees, we’re heavily involved in supporting their growth through internal mentorship and talent development programs.”

How can you find out about Shell internships and scholarships?

“The primary way is through our campus recruitment efforts. We have direct recruiting relationships with 22 colleges. Shell employees also serve as campus ambassadors, visiting and developing relationships on campus, and in the surrounding community.”

Wilson also advises exploring Shell’s website, www.Shell.us/careers, to find out more.

Some examples and results of Shell’s workforce efforts:

  • In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Shell has a direct partnership with a local STEM high school that focuses on minority students. Shell engineers are helping the students with programs and projects in national competitions.
  • Shell has also supported the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, or NACME, for many years; and partnered with the National Society of Black Engineers, or NSBE, which hosts various camps that encourage students, parents, and teachers around careers in energy. It has also shared with parents the industry opportunities that require just a two-year degree and how their children can get involved.
  • A signature program of Shell’s is its Energize Your Future with Shell website, on which it provides materials to teachers to increase their own knowledge of different types of energy and useful classroom games and activities. Learn more at www.shell.us/energizeyourfuture.

2015 Program Results include:

Workforce Impacts:

  • More than 155,000 students were affected by Shell technical and professional programs delivered at targeted universities and community colleges.
  • Partnerships with collegiate minority organizations provided an internship pipeline resulting in 73% full-time hires and 91% early-year intern conversions.
  • Funded more than 200 scholarships for students pursuing two- and four-year technical degrees

Education Impacts

  • More than 225,000 middle and high school students were affected by Shell Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs; of these, 60% were persons of color.
  • 48% of students from Shell-sponsored high school engineering/geosciences programs matriculate into STEM disciplines.
  • 145,000 teachers reported a 15% or higher content knowledge improvement because of Shell teacher professional development programs.

Clearly, you have to be open-minded when you think about Shell. For more information, go to http://www.shell.us/sustainability/.