At the Chevron Richmond Refinery on Wednesday, the executive director of the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) announced a bold goal for the near future: To create 10,000 black engineers in the U.S. annually, along with 40,000 engineers from other minority groups, to help the U.S. meet the growing demand for jobs in our rapidly advancing society.
While in the U.S. black workers have been historically overlooked in terms of jobs and educational opportunities, according to NSBE Executive Director Dr. Karl Reid (pictured on left), the future vitality and quality of life in our nation now depends on training minorities for the careers of tomorrow.
Reid, a former high-ranking official at the United Negro College Fund, was the keynote speaker at Chevron Richmond’s 17th Annual Black History Awareness Celebration, where four local college-bound high school students were honored for receiving the company’s annual Dr. William F. King Scholarship. Chevron employees joined community members, leaders and elected officials, including current and former Richmond City Council members, for a soul food lunch in the Richmond Refinery cafeteria on the second of two days of Black History events.
Reid cited economic studies showing that as much as 85-percent of measured growth in U.S. income per capita, even before the information technology revolution, resulted from technological change.
Inventions from smartphones to self-guided drones are creating new lucrative markets and jobs, but many future careers will require proficiencies in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Reid said. While there are plenty of Americans wanting those high-paying jobs, there aren’t enough trained to work them.
“If we don’t increase the pipeline of science and technology talent in this country, our economic vitality and national security will be at risk,” Reid said.
This challenge has provided an opportunity for minorities. If 10,000 black workers with STEM-related skills are created in the U.S. this year, and another 10,000 next year, according to Reid, that’s 20,000 additional U.S. citizens with high-paying jobs who could potentially solve some of our nation’s most pressing problems.
But “money matters” when it comes to creating all of those new engineers, Reid added. He described Chevron Richmond’s Black History scholarship (award winners pictured below) as an example of a win-win corporate investment that provides opportunity to low-income citizens while providing a boost for the Refinery’s future workforce.
“When I was with the United Negro College Fund, we did an analysis,” Reid said. “UNCF provides $100 million in scholarships a year to 13,000 students…we discovered that $5,000 given to a college freshman increases the likelihood that he or she will graduate in five years by eight percentage points.”
Chevron has been one of the major companies to have partnered with NSBE, having provided $3.5 million to the organization since 1997, mostly toward boosting youth education and career opportunities. Locally, the company routinely funds STEM-related projects requested by local teachers through DonorsChoose.org, recently funded the nation’s largest fabrication lab at a public high school at Kennedy High in Richmond, and has teamed with the San Francisco 49ers, NFL, and Oakland A’s on STEM education initiatives for local youth.
“We are grateful to have Dr. Reid speak at our Black History Awareness Celebration and proud of our partnerships with NSBE to support our graduating seniors,” said Andrea Bailey, community engagement manager for Chevron Richmond. “We are especially proud of the inspirational young people who won this year’s Dr. William F. King Scholarship and I cannot wait to see what they will achieve in college.”
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