Editor’s note: This guest column was originally posted on July 13, 2012
Shale development means economic development, and that’s exciting news for Ohio. It means tens of thousands of good-paying jobs across our state, all while helping to lower power costs for Ohio consumers.
As with anything else, we need to ensure that our local communities are consulted and that we rely on scientists and experts throughout the process to maintain a quality water supply. That means keeping a close eye on brine injection, and taking protective actions when necessary.
And we need to ensure that Ohio jobs created through shale development are filled by Ohio workers.
Last April, I helped convene a shale development jobs fair in North Canton. Jobseekers began lining up at 4:30am, and by the end of the day, more than 1,200 people came looking for work—many of them returning veterans. Thanks to the natural gas boom throughout Ohio, more of those men and women who lined up last April will find a job. More of those heroes who fought for our country won’t have to fight for work when they come home—and our entire state will benefit as a result.
But there’s more than we can do. Federal training assistance is available to ensure that workers are equipped with the right skill sets for jobs in shale development. In June, I visited a shale gas training center at Steubenville’s Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC). EGCC offers several training programs for jobs in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays, including a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)-funded initiative called ShaleNet that works to ensure that local residents are qualified and can be hired for new jobs in the oil and gas industry. EGCC also has a program, Retrain America that offers similar training for Ohioans looking for work in the shale industry. We need to continue investing in federal workforce development efforts.
We should also help partner businesses with local community colleges and workforce investment boards in order to develop specialized curricula and training. I saw a good example of this at a company called Tremcar, in Dover, which manufactures tankers for use in shale development and the petroleum industry. Tremcar has been coordinating with the Buckeye Career Center and Stark State College to train Ohioans for new jobs in the natural gas industry. The company employs several graduates and interns of programs at the Buckeye Career Center, and will be bringing in a welding instructor from Stark State College to run intensive two-week welding trainings for its new hires.
We need to support these existing partnerships, but we also need to build more of them. That’s why I introduced the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act. This bill would help local communities and educational institutions tailor workforce strategies to meet industry needs. This bill would allow more workers to receive placements and attract more businesses to our state. The SECTORS Act would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry—businesses, unions, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators—to develop plans for growing that industry.
We know that Ohio is home to countless innovative companies and a world-class workforce—now we need to ensure that energy companies arriving in the state are utilizing all that Ohio has to offer.
I’m optimistic about this exciting opportunity. I’m eager for the jobs that natural gas exploration will bring to Ohio, and I’m committed to making sure those jobs are filled by Ohioans.
This is a whole new industry to explore. But we must get it right. We must pay close attention to ensure that our future energy needs are met by our own workers.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown represents the state of Ohio.
For more information: http://www.brown.senate.gov/