As oil and gas drilling jobs become available in our area, career centers and vocational schools are training a new work force.
From geologists to welders, jobs are available and growing in the oil and gas industry, both locally and around the state.
For career centers, that means an opportunity for increased enrollment and job placement for students.
A recent report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said the average annual wage for jobs in core industries was $73,934.
Those areas include drilling, pipeline construction and support.
At Marlington High School, Bob Givens is on a mission to get his high school students working in the oil and gas field before they graduate.
As the pilot year for the Oil and Gas Technologies class winds down, he has several seniors working and some companies taking an interest in what he is doing.
“We’re not just sitting in the classroom. They are getting hands-on instruction,” said Givens, who has developed relationships with several oil companies that have offered class lecturers, equipment and internships.
His class recently visited Chesapeake drilling sites and natural gas facilities with Whipstock Natural Gas Services. In February, the class spoke at Gov. John Kasich’s Education and Economic Summit. And in March, they had a display at the Ohio Association of Career Technical Education Showcase at the Statehouse in Columbus, where they met Kasich and discussed their program.
“Kids are interested. A lot of schools in the area are looking at starting programs. The problem is always funding,” he said.
Givens said next year he will “tweak” the program, but so far, the state has not developed a curriculum.
The Marlington program is open to juniors and seniors and the district has open enrollment.
Nearby, at Alliance Career Center, adult interest is rising in welding classes for pipe welding.
Alliance City Schools Superintendent Peter Basil said this new offering will give graduates opportunities.
“Currently there are 12 adults enrolled. We started the class at the request of a business in Louisville because they need to increase their number of certified welders. Since pipe welding is an essential component, it was easy to offer it to any one else who wanted to work toward a certificate in pipe welding,” he explained.
Roger Bond, superintendent at Buckeye Career Center in New Philadelphia, said his school offers courses that both directly and indirectly feed the oil and gas field.
Juniors and seniors there are taking courses in natural resources, welding, agricultural and heavy diesel equipment, and outdoor power equipment.
The frustration for some of the high school students, Bond said, is that many jobs require the applicant to be at least 21.
“They can find muscle jobs,” he said, adding, indirect employment is a plus.
For example, if an adult gets hired to weld on a pipeline, the job he had in a welding shop may open up to a recent high school graduate.
Page 2 of 2 - All students are Safeland trained, meaning they have specialized oil and gas industry safety training, before they graduate.
That is also true for students at R.G. Drage Career Technical Center in Massillon.
There, said Director Cynthia Smythe, advisory committees are planning an oil- and gas-specific curriculum.
“We are working with (companies) to address their needs,” she said.
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