By Denise Dick
$4.9M grant funds program
For the first time since the Marcellus Shale natural-gas industry began to boom, workers in the multistate Marcellus Shale footprint will have the opportunity to receive standardized training for employment around the energy resource.
Eastern Gateway Community College is among the training providers.
Marcellus ShaleNET, a comprehensive recruitment, training, placement and retention strategy for jobs in the Marcellus Shale gas industry is launching, thanks to a $4.9 million community-based job training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The grant is the largest awarded nationally in this federal funding cycle.
A consortium of community colleges led by two hubs — Westmoreland County Community College and the Pennsylvania College of Technology — will coordinate the training of interested and qualified workers across 69 counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Working with the 10-county Pittsburgh region’s private sector leadership organization, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the grant partners have devised a comprehensive network. It will allow recruitment and training to build scale quickly while ensuring that individual regions can respond flexibly to changing workforce needs.
Production of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation continues to surge. Drilling in the gas field can yield decades of gas production near the major population centers of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, offering workers an opportunity to earn family-sustaining wages and to build strong career pathways.
The hubs will identify and convene relevant and interested training partners in the Marcellus Shale footprint to develop industry-approved criteria for training and certification programs.
Ohio’s public workforce “One Stop” centers will use a talent-matching system, working with industry and job seekers to connect candidates with vacancies.
The drilling of a single well requires 400 people working in nearly 150 occupations.
Because natural- gas extraction is a relatively new industry in the Mid-Atlantic, there aren’t enough job seekers with the specific skills needed to fill available positions, even with high unemployment rates.
As a result, much of the current gas drilling workforce is not local. Marcellus ShaleNET wants to change that.
The initial focus will be on linking industry, workforce investment boards and community college and other training providers to recruit, train and place low-income and dislocated workers, as well as veterans, in six high-demand occupations: derrick, rotary drill, and service unit operators; roustabouts; welding and brazing operators; and truck drivers.
For more information about Marcellus ShaleNET, contact Tracee Joltes, assistant director of workforce outreach at Eastern Gateway, at 800-68-COLLEGE, ext. 311.