Educational Offerings Provide Skills to Enter Marcellus Shale Industry

Published 07.02.2009


Pennsylvania College of Technology is responding to the recent Marcellus Shale Industry Needs Assessment by offering a number of short- and long-term education opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing career opportunities that could be available as the oil and gas industry expands in the region.

As a result of a workforce assessment of the industry released June 23, Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College and the Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center (MSETC) are developing a comprehensive pre-employment training program and customized noncredit courses to be offered this fall in welding, commercial driving, safety, electrical, electronic and other entry-level skills required in the industry.

Offerings will address the need for commercial drivers, roustabouts and well operators, according to Larry L. Michael, executive director, workforce and economic development at Penn College. He said commercial driver's license training will focus specifically on oil and gas industry needs, and safety training will include Occupational Safety and Health Administration topics and first responder safety.

In addition, Michael said, short-term roustabout training is being developed based on a model used by the oil and gas industry in the Barnett Shale play in Texas. The training will incorporate safety, environment and entry-level technical skills needed in the field, he explained.

Industry-specific welding classes, taught by Penn College faculty, will begin in October. Participants will train in the American Petroleum Institute (API) 1104 process. Certification testing for welders is also available at Penn College.

Other noncredit courses are in development that will provide individuals with electrical or electronics work experience to gain additional technical skills needed to work as a well tender (operator) in the industry. Courses will focus on industry-specific technologies, such as human machine interface, supervisory control and data acquisition, and programmable logic control.

In addition to short-term, noncredit training, Penn College offers a number of associate and bachelor's degrees that can prepare graduates for employment with energy companies or businesses serving the gas industry.

Tom F. Gregory, associate vice president for instruction, said, "While employer and industry surveys indicate that the greatest number of jobs in the gas-extraction industry will require specialized short-term training and experience, many long-term opportunities require technical degrees."

The programs cited by Gregory include construction management, civil engineering technology, computer aided product design, welding and fabrication engineering technology, electronics and computer engineering technology, electrical technology, automated manufacturing technology, computer aided drafting technology, machine tool technology, diesel technology, electric power generation, and heavy construction equipment technology.

Gregory explained that graduates in those programs have a diverse set of skills and abilities, enabling their effective employment in the gas industry, as well as many other local and regional businesses. In addition, he said, growth of the gas industry in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio means increased opportunities in many related areas, such as accounting and office management, legal staff, hotel and hospitality businesses, general construction, health and safety occupations, and protective services.

"The growth of the gas industry in our region brings a wide range of career opportunities for residents," Gregory explained. "It also creates opportunities for new businesses to emerge in order to provide services that support the industry's growth."

For more information on noncredit training related to the oil and gas industry, contact WDCE at 570-327-4775. For information on two- and four-year majors, contact the Admissions Office at 570-327-4761 or 800-367-9222.