Times-Reporter editorial: Drilling jobs on the horizon

Date: September 5, 2011

At least $1 billion in oil and gas lease fees has already been paid to Tuscarawas Valley land-owners for rights to drill down into the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. But even if you don\’t happen to be a land baron, there are opportunities for financial gain from the oil and natural gas boom.

On Labor Day 2011, we\’re talking about jobs and lots of them.

Uhrichsville attorney Brad Hillyer, who specializes in drawing up energy leases, suggests that the region could gain 6,000 to 8,000 jobs.

“We don\’t have the people trained for these jobs, so they\’re coming from other states,” Hillyer told The Times-Reporter in mid-July.

But officials at Kent State University Tuscarawas and Buckeye Career Center are working diligently behind the scenes to quickly identify training opportunities for local citizens in a multitude of jobs that will be coming. That\’s great news in itself.

Kent State\’s local Office of Business and Community Services is working on offering initial noncredit sessions yet this fall, with more choices available after January.

“We\’ve been preparing for close to a year,” said Director Pat Comanitz.

She met about six weeks ago with representatives of Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the major drilling operators, to learn what that firm needs.

Comanitz also has attended meetings throughout

the region offered by oil and gas trade associations “to plan for this educational boom, and to determine what we need to do to get ready to present information and training.”

Kent State\’s New Philadelphia campus is hoping to have a full-scale curriculum by spring, with more immediate offerings such as training about Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements specific to the industry.

Buckeye Career Center Director of Adult Education Erin VanFossen said 12 career centers are collaborating to provide testing in reading, math and locating information skills — such as reading graphs, maps and charts — for the oil and gas industry. The prescreening in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will help determine if people qualify for job training.

Additionally, VanFossen has been talking with officials at Westmoreland County Community College in the Pittsburgh area about providing training for the Marcellus ShaleNET program. The college is designing the curriculum for the training and recently issued a request for proposals with a total project grant of $4.9 million available from the U.S. Department of Labor to distribute among training providers.

Buckeye is working to complete its application by the Sept. 29 deadline. If approved for funding, classes could begin Dec. 1.

Buckeye also expects there will be increased demand for people with basic office skills, accounting backgrounds and customer service skills in other businesses that will spring up because of the growth in the oil and gas industry.

With unemployment rates around 9 percent, the region needs more jobs to put more people back to work, and we\’re pleased to know that local educators are working hard to deliver the training that will be required.

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Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.