"I can't overstate how important it is to match education to real jobs and to take a regional approach to break down barriers that exist within states and across lines," says Dr. Doreen Larson, president of Pierpont. "Because so many employers are crossing the region, we can tell our students that they might not be able to stay in West Virginia, but they can stay in the region."
Pierpont can also tell students that its two energy-related programs have 100% employment rates for graduates.
One program is the Power Systems Institute (PSI) Associate of Applied Science degree in Electric Utility Technology, a unique, two-year program, in partnership with First Energy, which combines classroom learning with hands-on training. Students who successfully complete the program are well qualified for careers, such as line workers and substation electricians, in the electric utility industry.
According to Dr. Larson, the program is truly regional and is offered at community colleges in West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio. First Energy provides the technical training onsite and then the community colleges provide wrap around education (for in-state tuition rates) in general studies, math and physics resulting in an Associate Degree.
Another program at Pierpont with excellent employment opportunities is the Associate of Applied Science degree program in Petroleum Technology. This regional one-year certificate program is designed to prepare students for technician-level jobs in the upstream and midstream segments of the oil and gas industry. Like the Power Systems Institute, the program combines courses in general education with courses specific to the petroleum industry. Pierpont partnered with West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling to offer the program.
A large part of the success of this program is a result of collaboration between the colleges and the industry. With a combination of industry investment and grants, Pierpont is building an Advanced Technology Center, with drilling simulation, being constructed at an Industrial Park off I-79.
"To work with companies you have to take a regional approach," adds Larson. "That's the way they think and that's the way the economy works; the economy doesn't start and stop at a border."
In the end, these programs have had an economic impact on the region. "We are keeping talented and bright people in the region and developing a pipeline into good jobs."