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Earning and Learning

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Natalie Smith
Vice President, Talent Development

Spencer Cauthen at the PDH project in Mont Belvieu, Texas

When Spencer Cauthen graduated from Spring High School in Houston, Texas, he knew he wanted an opportunity to gain practical skills, work with his hands, and master a craft. He sought to get “real world” work experience that would help him get started on his goals. He found that opportunity with S&B.

Today, Spencer is an Ironworker Helper at the S&B propane dehydrogenation or PDH project in Mont Belvieu, Texas. He started as an entry level helper and has achieved top helper status.  He has also recently completed the knowledge portion of the NCCER Industrial Ironworker certification, another key milestone in his progression towards his skill as a journeyman.  He has gained critical experience working in the heaters unit and setting iron.

“What excites me about working in the field is coming to work and seeing my accomplishments firsthand,” said Spencer, who has worked with S&B since 2021. “Through the training program, I hope to become a journeyman ironworker. After that, my options are open to moving into either advanced rigging, electrical or work on the safety team.”

Spencer participates in S&B’s free training program for craft professionals. All S&B laborers and helpers are eligible to enroll in our Career Skills Program (craft progression), and task-based training at our craft training center. Journey level professionals are eligible to enroll in upgrade training.

Employees only need to commit their time and focus; S&B provides the curriculum, instructors, facilities, and mentorship by supervisors and experienced journeymen.

S&B makes this substantial investment because we believe that our employees deserve the opportunity for growth and financial success, and that it is key to us delivering safe and high-quality work for our clients.

It is also imperative to us, as a leader in EPC, to contribute to the skilled talent pool of our industry’s workforce. In September 2022, 75% of S&B’s active helpers and laborers were enrolled in voluntary craft training and 73% of our active journeymen were enrolled in upskilling.

S&B’s task-based training offerings include carpentry, electrical, pipefitting, millwright, rigging, ironworking, and welding courses held at both S&B’s Craft Education and Skills Enhancement Center and on S&B job sites. The training enables employees to have an opportunity at guided, structured craft progression aligned to a tradition of apprenticeship. As helpers complete certain instructional and hands-on performance milestones, they gain promotions and higher wages. In 2022, there were over 200 promotions achieved by helpers and journeymen enrolled in training.

Spencer’s supervisor, foreman Jesus Alvarez, says that the type of work Spencer is doing today includes both multicraft work, such as assisting in boilermaking, and ironworking specific craft work, including steel erection, bolt up impact, detail and fabrication, and lifeline erection and inspection.  “He is close to becoming a journeyman in his line of work,” says Alvarez.

Spencer Cauthen is just one example among thousands who have been through S&B’s programs over the past 20 years and built successful craft careers. He is a testament to the opportunities provided by S&B. “Spencer is dedicated, hard-working,” says Mary Ibarra, the Training Manger on the PDH site. “He really wants to thrive in his life and only continue to grow.”

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