By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich continued to voice concern Monday about energy companies hiring out-of-state workers to fill jobs in eastern Ohio’s growing oil fields.
“One of the companies has about 70 percent of Ohioans working for them, [while another] is like 65 percent, which is good,” he said. “We haven’t completed our survey yet, but we intend to talk to them about the fact that we expect to have Ohioans playing a very large part in the development of this industry.”
The governor was asked to elaborate Monday about his concerns during his first question-and-answer session with Statehouse reporters since making some initial comments about the issue last week.
He said his administration is surveying energy companies about the situation — “Because we don’t want to have companies come in here and just bring people in who don’t live in Ohio,” he said — and attempting to gather more information about the types of skills those companies need in oil-field employees.
Kasich has voiced frustration in recent weeks with the lack of cooperation from private businesses in the latter, saying the state’s efforts to revamp education and training programs to ensure a steady stream of skilled workers is available have been hampered by companies’ unwillingness to share employment forecasts.
“We’ve been asking the energy companies for nearly a year and a half to give us those things they’re going to need, those skills,” he said. “Some have not been as forthcoming as others.”
But Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said last week members of his group already are working with universities, technical schools and community colleges to meet their employment needs, and it’s unrealistic at this point in the state’s emerging industry to expect more disclosure from companies.
“For the government to say we want specific numbers on exactly what you need on a play that’s just in its infancy and [just evolving] is asking something that may not be able to be given right now,” he said.