YSU drilling program hunts for students

By Burton Speakman



A program is coming to Youngstown State University that puts participants quickly into jobs in the oil-and-gas industry with shale-exploration certification.

In the 80-hour course, applicants are taught the basics and walked through the entire process of a drilling operation, said Steve Barnett, chief operating officer for Retrain America, which conducts the training in conjunction with Zane State College in Cambridge. Program participants also get help with job placement and earn a number of certificates specific to oil and gas drilling.

“There are over 100 people involved with drilling a well,” he said.

Students are shown the math, science, technology and engineering that goes into drilling. It is college- level material handled in a way that is easy to understand quickly, Barnett said.

Only 15 openings remain for the current class, Barnett said.

Those openings are expected to be filled at a meeting Monday at YSU’s Metro College at 100 DeBartolo Place, Suite 200, Boardman, he said.

Retrain America plans to keep the information for anyone not selected for the upcoming class to contact if additional courses become available.

“We want to encourage anyone who might be interested to attend the session,” Barnett said.

The program became available at YSU after Zane State exhausted its available pool of candidates, said Ronald K. Chordas, director of YSU Metro College. There have been 68 individuals who took a course through Zane State.

“They needed to use up grant money,” he said.

Zane State received the grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, and the goal was to provide training to 100 people, said Timothy Snodgrass, assistant project director of the Energize Appalachian Ohio Grant.

Youngstown was attractive as a location to expand the training because more of the oil and gas drilling is occurring in the Mahoning Valley than in Guernsey County, where Zane State is based, he said.

The fact that Youngstown has a long history as a hard-working, blue-collar area where people will work for a high wage was another factor, Snodgrass said.

“This job isn’t for everyone. At the information session, we make sure to inform them its tough, grueling, physical work,” he said.

About half of those who have graduated from the program have gone directly to work in the oil and gas industry, Snodgrass said.

“We’ve had graduates go to North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. We tell them that being mobile increases their chance for employment,” he said.

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