Tuition-Free Training Program Introduces Participants to Natural Gas Pipeline Industry Careers and Potential Employers
01/16/18 Des Plaines, IL
On January 4, a graduation celebration and job fair concluded the first session of a new Natural Gas Utility and Pipeline Field Skills Training Program.
The training introduced students to the natural gas industry and prepared them to be strong candidates to fill expanding career opportunities at local utility, midstream, contractors, and pipeline operations companies. With many open positions in the field, demand for operations crews continues to grow as pipeline build-out and replacement activities progress. At the same time, the industry workforce is experiencing significant retirements. This intersection leaves many gaps in the workforce that need to be filled.
Starting on November 30, the “From Black to Blue” pre-employment training program ran for four weeks at the Armstrong County Industrial Development Council in Freeport, PA. It blended classroom and hands-on training to provide a basic understanding and awareness of natural gas, the natural gas utility and pipeline industry, associated equipment, procedures, and operations. At the end of the session, a job fair with regional utilities and their contractors was hosted to help get people to work right away. It proved to be an excellent channel for job candidates, and numerous interviews were scheduled at the event. One participant has already landed a job with one of the local utilities, a week after graduating from the class.
Although the training was targeted at displaced coal workers, others in the Appalachian region were invited to take advantage of the training opportunity. Students came from a variety of backgrounds with experience in coal, welding, farming, computers, military service, home making and child raising, surveying, nursing care, paving, lawn care, and facilities management.
Students responded very positively to the training, indicating that it was interesting and informative, but most importantly, a launching pad for a new career path. Noted one, “This is a good opportunity to distinguish yourself from all other candidates by investing the time in training and passing the drug and background tests, so the employers know you are serious and employable.” Another student commented, “I wouldn’t pass it up. It’s a great opportunity.”
The program is offered free-of-charge for eligible students in southwestern Pennsylvania and southeastern Ohio. Thanks to funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Washington Greene County Job Training Agency, Inc. (WGCJTA) received a grant to cover the cost of tuition and program implementation. Starting salaries in the natural gas industry have the potential to exceed $50,000 depending on skills, and the career path could lead to six-figure compensation.
Says Patrick Findle, program manager for GTI, a leading energy research, development and training organization who developed the curriculum and designed the program, “This is a great avenue for people to find an attractive career in a robust industry. We’re excited about the great response that we’ve had from the first round of students. They were active and engaged, and really enjoyed the field work outside. We will use their feedback to continually improve the training.”
Another session began at the Armstrong County Industrial Development Council in Freeport, PA on January 8, and the training will be offered at Belmont College in St. Clairsville, OH starting on February 12. Future sessions are scheduled at these and other venues through the fall. Class dates, locations, and an application form can be found on the GTI website at www.gastechnology.org/from-black-to-blue.
GTI is a leading research, development and training organization that has been addressing global energy and environmental challenges by developing technology-based solutions for consumers, industry, and government for more than 75 years.