STEUBENVILLE - Eastern Gateway Community College has scheduled the first classes in what eventually will be a comprehensive shale oil and gas training curriculum.
Eastern Gateway is one of the 10 schools in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio designated as a ShaleNet Certified Training Provider. Also participating in the ShaleNet curriculum locally is West Virginia Northern Community College.
Funded via a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the goal is to place 3,000 work force-eligible individuals into jobs in the natural gas industry over the next 30 months.
Some of the training materials and equipment that will be incorporated into a safety orientation course offered in January at Eastern Gateway Community College, one of the first opportunities for area residents to begin to acquire the skills needed to work in the shale oil and gas industries. - Contributed
"We've got more than a couple hundred names on our list right now and the phone will not stop ringing," Tracee Joltes, Eastern Gateway's workforce outreach coordinator, said. "It's just constant."
ShaleNet is a recruitment, training, placement and retention program aimed at providing the gas industry with a ready and well-trained local work force for occupations that are in high demand.
It was created in collaboration with multiple colleges and state employment agencies in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
"It's a whole new area we're developing," she said. "It's what everybody is interested in getting more information on. It's extremely exciting for the area, the oil and gas industry is really going to impact everything."
Eastern Gateway President Laura Meeks pointed out Joltes had been working since 2010 to prepare curriculum, contacts and other activities to offer training as the gas and associated work force develops.
"Our environmental and planning scanning done one year ago revealed that Marcellus and Utica shale would be an emergent economic development opportunity," Meeks said, adding Eastern Gateway is "one of the leading colleges in the state for designing of training for Marcellus and Utica shale."
Joltes, for her part, said ShaleNet is currently focused on a handful of high priority entry-level occupations - roustabout, production technician, floorhand and welder.
All pay well, though Joltes said those taking positions in the shale industry should expect to work 12-hour days every day for two or three weeks, as well as holidays and weekends, regardless of weather.
She said shale employers also test their workers for drugs and do extensive background checks.
"The idea is to build capacity in the community, provide training to people in the community so they can get better jobs," she said. "It's a huge opportunity. It's not only an opportunity for people to go directly into working in the oil and gas field, but for new business to develop for existing business to expand. They're going to need a work force. There's going to be so much happening in the way of ancillary development, the need is going to go beyond just roustabout, production techs, floorhands and welders... We also know there's huge interest in hiring local people - we're focused on training those local people. That's what a community-based grant is about, so local people can work local."
So far, Joltes said they've scheduled basic PEC SafeGulf/SafeLand orientation Jan. 19-20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Jan. 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The PEC course, which meets the health and safety training standards required by the oil and gas industry, is designed to take the place of multiple operator orientations and give each participant a general idea of life and safety issues in the oil and gas industry.
It's intended to provide a basic, awareness-level understanding of certain general safety information that an employee should know before entering a company facility and while performing assigned work duties.
They're also offering a six-week Big Rig commercial drivers license class, beginning the week of Jan. 30, as well as water and wastewater technician training.
Informational sessions to familiarize prospective students with the training options will be offered Jan. 17 at 1:30 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. in Eastern Gateway's Pugliese Center
For information on any classes or the ShaleNet program, contact Joltes at (740) 264-5591, extension 311.