Pipelines to Youth
Yesterday, Tom, Bill and I had the opportunity to participate in the Pipelines to Youth program that PACareerLink has started. We met with several recent high school graduates from Lycoming County from school districts like Montoursville, Williamsport, Hughesville, Loyalsock and Muncy, some of whom had also attended the Lycoming County Career Training Center in the Chief Oil and Gas office where they had the chance to gain some insight on the industry and also learn about the jobs available to them with or without post-secondary education.
Diane Bubb, the natural gas coordinator for PACareerLink, describes the purpose of the program in the video below:
Before Chief’s Daria Fish and new-hire Lindsey Choate gave their presentation, we had the opportunity to go around the room and hear why the kids (sorry guys, I know you have entered adulthood by graduating high school) were interested in the natural gas industry and what they intended to do post-graduation.
Most wanted the opportunity to work outside or with with their hands using the skills they learned in high school. One of the participants said that he would love to be at a job that allows him to be outside all day everyday. Well, they are certainly looking at the right industry! This field, no matter what form the job title takes, absolutely allows people to get outside and work with their hands. Even those with office jobs often go out on site and get the opportunity to enjoy our region’s rural character (which, by the way, is being maintained by revenue natural gas development is generating for farmers and forest land owners).
Some of the students liked video gaming, had backgrounds in computers or cable specialties, and all were interested in hearing how those skills can be transferred to the natural gas and support workforce. When they saw images of all of the computers and video game like machinery that runs an operation, they were definitely impressed.
One of the participants, a girl, didn’t seem to mind that the industry laborers are predominantly male and looked excited to hear how women get their own bathroom or locker facility on site and are encouraged to apply just as much as their male counterparts. With her background in computers, she could easily be running a frac operation or a drill rig some day!
The recent grads learned about a panoply of jobs available to them and the different companies they could be a part of. They learned natural gas operators typically hire service other companies to do the many aspects of recovering the natural gas. Service company jobs can range from cooking food for workers, to landscaping disturbed sites, seismic testing, hydraulic fracturing and everything in between. If they like to do community relations, they could even get a job such as Daria or the Energy In Depth team has. It showed them that no matter what their background, this industry has something to offer everyone, and more importantly, the companies are hiring.
The students also talked about some of the things they had heard in the media about the natural gas industry, good and bad. They said the good stuff centered around the economy and becoming independent from foreign oil and the bad had to do with the environment. They wanted to learn for themselves about the risks and benefits, though, and that’s one of the reasons they participated in this program.
They also had the opportunity to learn more about the process of getting the natural gas from beginning to end, specifically how Chief’s operations work. They learned about exploration and seismic testing that allows scientists to see a topographic map of the inside of the earth. They watched a video and received information on how a well is drilled, including that Chief uses an air drill and not mud, until after the aquifer is cased. It is the same process as drilling a water well for private usage!
They saw how a well is fraced and all about how a closed-loop system works to ensure no waste material ever sees the light of day. They even got a rundown of how water withdrawal figures are calculated by always assuming drought levels. It was quite the informative presentation!
The students will be hearing from Halliburton on Tuesday and will be participating in an essay contest to help them verbalize what they have learned about.
This program is such a great example of the community outreach by the companies and workforce development groups, and a wonderful opportunity for recent graduates to find good jobs locally and stay near their families if that’s what they desire, while also giving them the opportunity be a part of something big happening in their communities.