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Dozens of Low-Income Workers in Los Angeles to Begin New Year Earning $70,000/Yr. Through Internships, Careers in Energy Industry as Result of SBCC's Innovative, Community-Based Jobs Program.

First "Energy Pathway Program" Students Graduate from Intensive 6-month Program

LOS ANGELES -- Today marks the beginning of a brighter future for the first 31 graduates of the new Energy Pathway Program (EPP), an intensive 6-month training and certification program which prepares low-income and displaced workers from local communities for high-wage careers in the petroleum industry. Spearheaded by the South Bay Center for Counseling (SBCC), the program is a unique, national model for public/private partnerships, and is the first of its kind to provide students with an integrated, community-based system of support which includes social, educational and financial aspects to foster success for students.

"We're investing in our local workers and businesses now and for the future," says Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. "It's inspiring to see how these graduates can succeed with their own hard work and an effective, coordinated system of support. As this model becomes adopted in other industries, our communities will continue to grow stronger and stronger."

Under the leadership of the SBCC, a private community-based non-profit organization in Service Planning Area 8 (SPA 8) of Los Angeles, program partners including lead ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), Valero, ExxonMobil, BP, Los Angeles Harbor College, the California Educational Development Department (EDD) and the United Steel Workers Local 675 have come together to invest in the empowerment of low-wage and displaced workers from the local community.

In addition to the unique aspect of including a social support element, the EPP also provides for cognitive diversity in the learning environment, fostering growth by working with students who may have different learning abilities, or those who have had little success in traditional educational environments.

"Bringing all of these aspects together in a comprehensive system of support is the key to the Energy Pathway Program's success," said Colleen Mooney, Executive Director for the SBCC. "These individuals are working hard to succeed, and providing them with an appropriate support system is allowing them to build a promising future."

Oil refineries estimate that approximately 150 to 200 job openings for entry-level Process Technicians starting at $70,000 per year salaries will become available over the next two years. At the same time, refineries are seeking new strategies to develop a diverse, trained workforce to meet increased skill requirements for entry-level jobs. Hiring is expected to continue at a level of approximately 100 to 150 hires per year over the next five years as the current workforce heads toward retirement age. And by investing in local residents to help fill this need, more jobs will stay within local communities, rather than go to out-of-state or out-of-country workers.

"The Energy Pathway Program is creating wonderful opportunities for graduates and the industry alike," says Jay Churchill, Los Angeles Refinery Manager for ConocoPhillips. "We're pleased to offer graduates solid career opportunities and well-paying jobs. The recent graduates have already shown that with the proper training and support, they can learn the technical skills to succeed in our industry."

He adds, "The graduates have also demonstrated a strong personal commitment to the success of both themselves and the program, and they will be a tremendous asset to our organization in the coming years."

Job placements are slated to begin in January 2007, with 2/3 of the graduating class already receiving employment offers from major refineries. Furthermore, the certification received by graduates is valid at any refinery in the world, providing a level of long-term career security for EPP graduates. The second class of the Energy Pathway Program is scheduled to begin training in early January of 2007.

"The graduates have worked so hard and made personal sacrifices to ensure their success in the Energy Pathway Program," said Colleen Mooney, Executive Director of the SBCC. "We're proud of them and excited for them as they begin the next phase of their careers and their lives.

"By working together, the students and our partners have truly made this program a success," adds Mooney. "As we are able to secure more funding and branch out to other industries, more and more doors will open for hard-working, low-income individuals as we continue to strengthen our local job markets and communities. The possibilities are very exciting."

ConocoPhillips is an integrated petroleum company with interests around the world. For more information, go to www.conocophillips.com.

Established in 1973, South Bay Center for Counseling (SBCC) is an incorporated non-profit mental health agency that provides services to the residents of LA County. Its purpose is to meet the mental health and social service needs of individuals and families, regardless of economic status. For over 30 years, SBCC has been developing into a provider of multidisciplinary services which include education and training for mental health professionals, child abuse treatment, in-home social services, child care, counseling, school-based support programs, community engagement activities, family support services, school readiness, and extensive community outreach. For more information, visit www.sbaycenter.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 15, 2006
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