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Region racing to train workers

Linda Hall Dix Communications Published: July 2, 2013 8:15 AM
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WOOSTER — As the crude oil and natural gas industry burgeons in Ohio, Ohioans no doubt will seek to be a part of it.

At least one organization, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) has thought ahead to what that means in terms of training and educating them for related job opportunities.

In a press release about serving as a source for workforce training, Rhonda Reda, OOGEEP’s executive director, said, “The oil and gas industry wants to hire Ohioans.

“And to help make the connection between the classroom and workplace, we have diligently been working with educational institutions around the state to certify that they are providing industry-specific training so that these students can be hired.”

Three local schools — The College of Wooster, The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute and the Wayne County Schools Career Center — were identified in the release as providing approved training.

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Spokespeople for each of those institutions clarified they do not necessarily have specific programs tailored just to the oil and gas industry, but rather offer courses and programs in which students may gain certain skills needed to be employed in various aspects of the industry,

“We landed our first grad (in a job) with a key partner in that industry,” said John Arnold, an associate professor in engineering technologies at ATI.

Arnold is a program coordinator for hydraulic power and motion control, power and equipment, and hydraulic service and repair.

The graduate, who attended an ATI job fair, Arnold said, is employed by Performance Technologies, a company which does “the actual fracking — the high pressure work (with) all the equipment that comes in when a well is ready (for them) to do the actual fracturing.”

“Big companies absolutely rely on other industries as providers,” Arnold said, as well as different areas of expertise and skills.

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In preparing students with different skill sets, The Ohio State University and its branches can “point out assets we have ... and what our graduates could be capable of (doing),” Arnold said.

ATI, for example, offers associate of applied science degrees in hydraulic power and motion control and in power equipment, in addition to a certificated program in hydraulic service and repair.

Another degree which could be applicable to the oil and gas industry is ag systems and management, Arnold said, noting also helpful would be students well-versed in “the environmental part of this, too.”

The College of Wooster also plays its part.

“A number of our alumni who earned their bachelor’s degree in geology at Wooster have gone on to careers in the oil and gas industry, with both major multinationals and small independent companies,” said John Hopkins, The College’s associate vice president of college relations and marketing.

At the Wayne County Schools Career Center, a variety of skills taught could be preparatory for careers in the oil and gas industry, according to Lynn Moomaw, director of operations and adult education.

“One of the main things we offer (in that area) is welding,” Moomaw said, noting that many other skills, including truck driving, are needed for “any facet (of the industry).”

Diesel mechanics and maintenance or mechanical technician training at the Career Center also made the list on OOGEEP’s comprehensive “workforce development careers educational and training programs” link for educational institutions all across Ohio on its website at OOGEEP.org.

Moomaw explained that the Career Center also stands ready to, if asked, provide “any kind of customized training” as different components of the industry “move into Wayne County” and begin to do business there.

She said personnel could visit other Career Centers with related programs as a way to more quickly develop curriculum at the Wayne county Schools Career Center as needed.

The University of Akron made the OOGEEP list as training its students in oil and gas industry-applicable careers from attorney to transaction analyst, with land mapping technician and geophysicist part of more than a dozen possibilities and opportunities.

“The oil and gas companies that are doing business in Ohio want to hire qualified local individuals to work in this expanding industry,” Reda said in the OOGEEP release. “We hope the workforce career and training information on our website will make it easier for individuals to connect their career goals to their education planning.”

“Our industry is on track to create and support thousands of Ohio-based jobs in upstream, midstream and downstream activities in Ohio’s 30-plus geological formations that produce natural gas and crude oil, including the Utica shale,” she reported.


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