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Layoffs in strong economy mean jobs to fill

Veterans of the oil and gas industry are familiar with its unpredictable currents and often begin a job knowing it won’t last forever.

Kira Mundine-Galvan, of Victoria, worked in the industry for about 11 years until she was laid off from Nico Supply on Jan. 14. She worked as an outside sales representative for the Louisiana-based company.

When the company started cutting back on expenses, she said she was let go because they couldn’t afford to keep paying her salary.

“When times are good it’s easy to make money, but I always listened to the company men and people with years of experience,” Mundine-Galvan, 32, wrote in a message through Facebook.

Her bosses and co-workers told her it was important to save because the success of the industry wasn’t certain. She was told to “always keep it in the back of your mind that it might not be here tomorrow.”

Some of her colleagues are hopeful that the activity will pick up in a few months, but she said it’s a waiting game for everyone. She expects the changes to have positive and negative effects but believes South Texas will feel the brunt of it.

“It trickles down,” she wrote. “The more drilling the more jobs, meaning more consumers in the area. So if you don’t have as many people eating at your restaurants, shopping at your stores and visiting your establishments, you do not have the funds to pay all of the employees you once did.”

Schlumberger announced plans to cut 9,000 jobs last week in its global workforce in response to the falling price per barrel of oil.

Stephen Harris, corporate communications manager for Schlumberger, said details about how many jobs that might mean for the Crossroads region is unavailable.

He wrote in an email that reductions are currently ongoing and that the company anticipates completion sometime during the first quarter of 2015.

Related: Oil patch jobs still plentiful

Companies that lay off employees from the Crossroads workforce affect all sectors, said Henry Guajardo, executive director of Golden Crescent Workforce Solutions. It’s possible the area might see a move from its nearly 7,500 natural resources and mining jobs to other sectors employment.

“We still have a strong job market. We still have sectors that are looking for people to fill positions,” he said.

Other sectors in the region that are seeing a need for workers include manufacturing, retail and health care. Those sectors also include jobs that require similar skills to those learned in the oil and gas industries.

Guajardo expects there will be more jobs lost in the oil and gas industries, but said there are still jobs for people to fill.

When jobs start getting cut, he said it increases the pool of qualified job seekers, too. Applicants who have filled positions in the oil and gas industries also have transferable skills in manufacturing and petrochemical industries.

During times of high unemployment, he said some people will go back to school for more training or education.

“Education is critical. You need to have skills to get hired,” Guajardo said.

Ultimately, he said, planning for the unpredictable is important. People need to be prepared for those circumstances to avoid getting caught off guard.

Now that Mundine-Galvan is no longer working for Nico Supply, she’s using the opportunity — and her savings throughout the years — to open a food truck.

“I watched my spending and was able to put some money aside,” she wrote. “So glad I have something to fall back on.”

Shifts in the supply and demand of oil and gas are things people don’t have control over, Guajardo said. Without the help of a crystal ball, he said, people need to prepare themselves by learning more about the job market.

“See what types of jobs are available, and see what kinds of jobs they are qualified for. There are jobs out there, and people can adjust,” he said.


This article was written by Jessica Rodrigo from Victoria Advocate, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.