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Serving as matchmaker

Center busy preparing workers for new careers, particularly in oil, gas industry

April 16, 2012
By LINDA HARRIS - Business editor ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - From where Mike McGlumphy sits, playing matchmaker has never been this much fun.

McGlumphy, director of the Jefferson County Workforce Investment Act One-Stop Center, has been busy in recent months preparing workers for new careers, particularly in the oil and gas industry.

He's spent more than $500,000 this budget year to train workers in occupations for careers as heavy equipment operators, truck drivers and welders.

"They don't have hands-on experience, being that they're fresh out of school, but a lot of laid-off workers have work experience, just not in the fields they've trained in. They have the work ethic the industry is looking for."

He said one oil and gas company, new to Jefferson County, had initially required a year's on-the-job experience before an applicant would be considered, but dropped the requirement after meeting with a handful of prospects who showed up at their offices in search of jobs once word got out that the company had located here. Days later the company's human resources officer met with some additional prospects who'd taken advantage of training opportunities through Jefferson County Workforce Investment, sending them for their drug testing and background checks.

McGlumphy said that employer has hired four of his trainees over the past few days, "so I'm happy." Another oil-and-gas related company "is also hiring some of our people," McGlumphy said.

"They love the caliber of workers they're getting from us," McGlumphy said. "More and more companies are starting to utilize our One-Stop service -word is slowly getting out."

Of course, McGlumphy said it helps that the tri-county region has a very qualified work force used to working in industrial settings.

"What we're doing now is going out and identifying the requirements of the oil and gas industry and trying to train people in those skill sets," he said.

McGlumphy said he's already trained or is in the process of training 102 dislocated workers as well as 70 other adults considered unemployed or even under-employed. He won't have any more training funds until the new budget year begins July 1, however.

He said training is available in virtually any area, although oil and gas is currently a big attraction. Long-haul truck driving and medical fields, however, also are popular.

"We're pretty happy we're getting people jobs," he said. "One of our main purposes is to get people back to work. It's starting to happen at a faster pace than we were ever used to."

And as jobs in the oil-and-gas industry pick up, McGlumphy said they're seeing openings in traditional job sectors as well.

"Some other businesses are now feeling the effects, individuals who have experience are moving on for bigger and better pay," he said.

"Are we getting more job orders? Yes," he said. "And are we seeing more activity? Yes. We're starting to see a lot of new (job) growth, new businesses are coming in."

He praised the Progress Alliance staff, which he says "work hand-in-hand" with their counterparts at the One-Stop center.

"Our end goal is the same, to get people back to work," he said.

Meanwhile, McGlumphy said unemployment numbers locally are starting to fall, though the verdict is out as to whether that's because more people are finding jobs or they've just exhausted their benefits.

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