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New degree at Nicholls fills need in oil industry

Thibodaux, La. - The oil and gas industry calls it the "Great Crew Change," and over the next couple of years, thousands of Baby Boomers will be eligible to retire.

But there's a shortage of experienced workers ready to replace them, especially on the management side. That's why Nicholls State University has developed a new maritime management program. It's a four-year management degree with a concentration in maritime management, and students will learn about marine accident prevention, the economics of shipping, maritime law and more.

They'll also have an opportunity to intern with companies that need experienced workers.

This is the first program of its kind in the state and it's fully funded by companies in the oil and gas industry.

It comes at a time when funding for higher education is being cut, and Nicholls faculty members say it's exciting to be able to offer new courses and degrees.

"One of the big problems we faced when industry came to us looking to develop the program was a lack of funding we were receiving from the state," says Dr. Ken Chadwick, director of the maritime management program. "So we went back to industry and told them that if we could put the funding together, then we believed this would be an excellent niche for the College of Business. Within several months, we raised several hundred thousand dollars from industry."

This is the first semester the program has been offered. Currently there are 24 traditional students and 16 employees of local companies working to earn certificates.

Nicholls expects those enrollment numbers to increase for the spring.

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