Appalachian Basin

*UPDATE* Zane State Oil & Gas Grads Drowning in a Sea of Job Offers

“You are the pioneers who will be followed by tens of thousands of roughnecks, roustabouts, drill operators and others – all supporting the Oil and Gas industry here in our state.”

-Dr. Paul Brown, Zane State commencement address 10.7.11

Today in Pittsburgh, President Obama spoke about his plan to spark job creation by passing his legislation in Washington. While the debate on the best way to revitalize a struggling American economy drags on over on Capitol Hill, Ohioans are taking matters into their own hands closer to home.

Just about 110 miles away from Pittsburgh in tiny Cambridge, a dozen recent graduates are facing their own struggle determining what comes next after graduation. But instead of struggling to find work, these young men and women are struggling to decide which among the several jobs that have been offered to them they’ll take. These students are the first in what will no doubt be many successful graduates of Zane State College’s new Oil & Gas certificate program.

The three-week training, part of the Retrain America and Energize Appalachian Ohio project, is designed to instill skills necessary to gain employment in the growing oil and gas industry here in Ohio and elsewhere.

Many of these students are walking out with jobs already in hand. Others are progressing through the interview process. All of them are now well trained and well equipped to join what Dr. Paul Brown, President of Zane State College, refers to as a “revolution” in the field of energy:

“I didn’t know at the time, that in addition to Ohio, this revolution is also occurring in Pennsylvania, in New York, in Texas, in North Dakota, in Colorado and is rapidly spreading throughout the country. Why? Because nothing runs without energy, and it’s about time that America produces all the energy it needs.”

EID-Ohio had the privilege to join the students and faculty during their recent graduation ceremonies. In the video below, Project Director Dan Durfee and Zane State College President Dr. Paul Brown take a moment to explain the program’s design, and the potential for the students that complete the training. Among the recent graduates are Alexis Fletcher, Mitch Dawson and Nick Delaney, who also talked with us about what brought them to the oil & gas training program and what opportunities their graduation has opened for them moving forward:

“This is the journey that you are about to embark on, and your timing could not be more perfect.”
-Dr. Paul Brown

As you may have heard, Ohio is at the forefront of this ‘revolution’. A recent study released by the OOGEEP indicates the development of state’s natural gas energy will create and support nearly 200,000 jobs right here at home. These students have the advantage of being some of the first to step out into an industry that will revitalize the economy.

Already, Zane State is meeting high demand for their next Oil and Gas certificate program beginning late October. As the development of Ohio’s energy resources expands, the demand and opportunities for trained, skilled workers will dramatically increase. This program provides that.

I asked Mitch Dawson, a graduate of the program, what attracted him to Zane State. “I knew it was a growing industry. (I) tried to get into something with a lot of potential, a lot of growth,” said Dawson, who is in the process of deciding which of his job offers he will accept.

Zanesville Times Recorder reporter Brian Gadd posed the same question to another graduate, Cory May of Cambridge. “I called them up, had a meeting and decided it was a good fit for me. I’m used to working outside, and in those countries, it was especially the extremes. This class just opened the door for me,” replied May, a 23-year-old veteran recently returned from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. (“Locals prepare for oil and gas jobs” Oct. 7)

As the responsible development of the Utica progresses, more institutions like Zane State College are looking to research and educate it’s students on what will become one of the driving focus of Ohio’s economic recovery.

The Ohio State University recently opened its Subsurface Energy Resource Center to facilitate research and communication focused on energy development both in Ohio and nationwide.

This is an important step, as the Utica Shale and other resources in the state provide increasing opportunities for decades.  As Jeffery Daniels, Co-Director of the Center, tells the OSU Lantern – “(This is) not something that will be short lived…It will have a huge impact on the state economy and jobs.” (“New center focuses on subsurface energy” Oct. 6)

“Not only will Appalachia contribute to the restarting of America’s economic engine, but Appalachia will lead the way.” 
-Dr. Paul Brown

It’s the great opportunity for our communities and workforce that is prompting colleges like Zane State, Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville and Ohio State to focus on providing the necessary research, education and training to take advantage.

Asks Dr. Brown, “What could be more rewarding than knowing as Appalachians that you will be among the first workers who will bring your state and your country back to economic prosperity?”

The New Philadelphia Times-Reporter recently identified 82 different occupations involved in the oil and gas industry that are rapidly becoming available. The abundance of new jobs created will go a long way to revitalizing not only the eastern region of the state, but Ohio as a whole.

These are well paying jobs at all levels, and while they certainly will not be the last, the graduates of Zane State College Oil and Gas certificate program are among the first ready to seize the opportunity.

“There’s a lot of room for new jobs,” graduate Nick Delany, of Columbus tells me.

“I’m really excited. It’s a lot of hard work, but I’m ready for it.”

Dr. Paul Brown – Zane State College Commencement Speech:

UPDATE (Oct. 19, 2011): Great piece in the Wall Street Journal today (written by the Associated Press) highlighting the tremendous impact that natural gas development is having (and will continue to have) on local colleges and universities in Ohio:



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