Schooling Lycoming County on Natural Gas Job Training
July 27, 2011 was Marcellus Shale Day in Lycoming County and as part of that, the Marcellus Shale Coalition and American Natural Gas Alliance hosted an event to bring community leaders together to discuss job training and the positive workforce impact taking place in the county. Instead of renting out a hall or using a typical meeting place, attendees met at Sooner Pipe in Montoursville to not only hear about impacts, but also see them first hand.
Jason Fink, Executive Vice President of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, moderated the panel discussion which consisted of legislators, educators, natural gas industry representatives, and a local resident and Pennsylvania College of Technology graduate who is now working for NuWeld utilizing the degree he earned at Penn Tech.
Dennis Holt, the yard manager for Sooner Pipe, in welcoming the attendees to his facility, describes how his company has employed a 100% local workforce and other ways that building the facility has impacted the local community.
The Panelists-Marcellus Allowing Residents to Come Home to Good Jobs
State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) spoke as a member of the panel. He discussed the many ways the natural gas industry has positively impacted Lycoming County and beyond. About 85% of his own work is related to the natural gas industry. He also stresses the problem the Marcellus Shale region has to overcome: that 73% of the population lives in 19 PA counties, few of which are in the Marcellus region. The remaining 27% of the PA population lives in the 48 counties that are in the shale play.
you can watch his comments in the following video.
Lycoming County Commission Jason Wheeland also spoke at the event. He discussed how his own business of ice packaging has grown as a result of the natural gas industry operating in the county. They have hired new employees and have established new contracts with other businesses outside of the county as demand has grown. This positive impact has been seen in other businesses as well. His main focus though was discussing his role on the governor’s Marcellus Shale Commission. He had 81 suggestions that he gave the governor, the most out of any commission member. He also stressed the need for outreach to get legislatures who are not in the Marcellus Shale region up to our counties to see the impacts, both economic and others, as they really can’t know what it’s like until they see it for themselves. He stressed that local impacts differ from county to county and even borough to borough. Please watch his comments in the following videos.
Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Vince Matteo, also served on the commission and spoke about comments that he gave and described how the Lycoming County Task Force was formed. He stated, in his 31 years in chamber work he has never seen the job creationwe are seeing now in any PA communities where he has worked. My favorite part of his presentation was when he said, “It is so good we have people fighting over how many jobs its created. ‘It’s not 40,000; it’s 20,000.’ What a nice problem to have!”. Please watch all of his comments in the following video.
Mary Wolf, a former mayor of Williamsport who now works as the Government Relations Advisor for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, discussed how Anadarko has been hiring a local workforce. She also discussed how the natural gas industry have been working with groups like BLaST to educate the community on the impacts of the industry. Anadarko, and Mary specifically, have worked very closely with Pennsylvania College of Technology and PA CareerLink to train and hire local workers. She discussed this and the need for continued cooperation between educators, chambers and the industry to further the endeavors. Please watch her comments in the following video.
Larry Michaels, executive director of workforce and continuing education at Pennsylvania College of Technology and member of the development team of the comprehensive online recruiting tool ShaleNET, discussed how Penn College has developed programs by working with the industry and studying the needs of the new workforce. In doing this, they have created new programs and enhanced existing ones. They have trained over 3000 workers in the last year, 92% being local residents.
Larry also discussed ShaleNet and their efforts to standardized the Pennsylvania job training across the state. They are also working with CareerLink to standardize the definitions of different jobs so seekers will know exactly what each position entails. There newest effort is to open an emergency response training center. Please watch his discussion in the following video.
Jason Braster, a welding graduate from Penn College was the last speaker of the day. He said the least, but his comments were the most impactful of the group. Jason is now employed by NuWeld using the skills he learned at Penn College. He discussed how he had to leave home to get a job after graduation, and has now been able to come home because of the Marcellus Shale. His company had 138 employees last Monday and by Wednesday had 142, stressing just how much they are continuously hiring locally. This quote really sums up the entire talk, “Working at NuWeld and being home…It feels good.” Please watch his brief, but powerful comments in the following video.
During the question and answer period, a local landowner wanted to know where he could find good information about natural gas development. In addition to suggesting he look at Penn State and other great resources, take a look at where Senator Yaw suggests he looks in the following clip!