Appalachian Basin

EGCC Prepares Local Workforce for Opportunities in Shale Development

On Friday March 23rd, Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) graduated their first class from their newly formed ShaleNet training course.  The course consisted of three weeks of training by Shalenet instructors in order to prepare the attendees with the tools needed to be employed in Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry. The best part was that the event was free of charge to those enrolled in the program!  The inaugural class consisted of 18 well trained Ohioans eager and ready to take advantage of Ohio’s oil and natural gas development.

As the OOGEEP Economic Impact Study found, Ohio’s Utica Shale development is poised to create over 204,520 jobs by 2015.  With this massive employment growth, Ohio needs qualified workers to fill these positions.  In reaction to the new job growth, Tracee Joltes, Workforce Training/Development at EGCC, and Dr. Laura Meeks, President of EGCC, closely examined opportunity to train the local workforce for the coming influx of new jobs.

EGCC quickly looked into getting a ShaleNet grant to begin such a training program.  ShaleNet is a $4.9 million- three year grant program run by the Department of Labor to train local workers to take full advantage of job opportunities in natural gas development in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

EGCC received the grant and quickly organized and launched their program last year as they saw the economic opportunity Utica Shale development would likely bring to the Jefferson County area.  On January 17th , Safeland Instructors Tracee Joltes and Michael Lorms,  held an informational session for those interested in the program.  Over 700 people attended the two informational sessions, clearly there is significant interest in the community!

Of those 700 EGCC was only able to accept 18 people who paid for and passed physicals and drug tests to ensure they were ready to work in the oil and natural gas industry.  The easy part was over.  Over the next three weeks the students trained daily to become Safeland certified and ready to work on site.

Tracee Joltes (featured in below video) administered the program and made sure the first class met all of the marks and demands that would be met in the natural gas industry.

These classes cover all the basics and give the students who go through them a really in depth orientation for the oil and gas industry so they really understand what they are going into.  Folks going into the class have a lot hurdles that they have to get over before they can even be accepted into the class because the industry is very demanding and these guys have all met these marks and then some. – Tracee Joltes

The curriculum covered the basics of  natural gas industry, safety practices and regulatory compliance including  spill and fall prevention, CPR, Safeland training and site preparation.  But the class didn’t stop there.  In order to get the newly trained workforce an greater opportunity in the field, they worked on creating resumes focused on skills needed in the oil and natural gas industry.

On Friday, three weeks of hard work and dedication finally paid off for the excited training participants.  All 18 students passed the course and are now ready to take up some of the lag Ohio has in providing a workers to fill needed natural gas industry jobs, as noted in a recent Tribune article.

Dr. Laura Meeks, came on the final day to congratulate the class for their hard work and accomplishments.

Today I’ll admit it I cried in class.  I know Presidents aren’t supposed to cry but I did and the class was very understanding and I think some of them were too.  Because today is March 23rd and on March 5th the very first class of ShaleNet sponsored class started at Eastern Gateway Community College.  And it’s been a long time since we had jobs to offer with skills to where they could use their hands as well as their heads. -Dr. Laura Meeks

Nathan Jones was one of the first graduates of the ShaleNet class.  As a former construction worker, Nathan knows that hard work and dedication pays off.

It was a great program.  I learned a lot about the oil and gas industry, something I did not know a lot about before I started the program.  I have a background in construction.  I’m very knowledgeable there but this was a very enlightening program for me because I do want to make a career change. – Nathan Jones

Nathan like so many others are eager to take advantage of their new training and put what they learned to real world applications.

Friday was the first graduation of ShaleNet training for EGCC, but the school is not close to being finished.  They already have a new class beginning in the middle of April at the Jefferson Campus, as well as others planned at satellite campuses in the Warren area.

With programs like EGCC as well as Zane State, Ohio is taking the proper steps to ensure Ohioans will be ready to take full advantage of the employment opportunities brought forth by shale exploration.


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