ShaleNET Workforce Forum

Dec 4, 2014 Environment

In a continued effort to link talent to opportunity, the 2014 ShaleNET Workforce Forum was conducted in Washington, PA, on November 5 and 6. Coordinated by Penn State Extension, the annual event focused on the work of the ShaleNET partners: Westmoreland County Community College (PA), Stark State College (OH), Navarro College (TX), Penn College of Technology (PA), and Pierpont Community and Technical College (WV). The forum had 118 attendees comprised of 72 from education, 18 from business and industry, 4 from government agencies, 1 from foundations and 23 from high schools/career & technology centers. There were industry representatives from Chevron, Baker-Hughes, PIOGA (Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association), Powell Shale Digest, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation, OOGEEP (Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program) and Discovery Machine.

The ShaleNET Forum’s keynote speaker was Marc Payne, manager of Business Development and Planning at Chevron Appalachia LLC in Moon Township. His talk, “Natural Gas from Shale: Developing Workforce Now and for the Future,” discussed the global economic impact of natural gas from shale and focused on the Marcellus, North America’s  largest shale gas deposit located in southwestern PA, eastern OH, and northern WV. He connected with the forum audience when he discussed the critical need for a trained workforce for the Shale Industry.

Payne explained the newly created Chevron Appalachia Partnership Initiative (API), which includes a major focus on preparing the future workforce through working with K-12 schools, developing and strengthening STEM programs under its partnership with Project Lead The Way, and the preparation for a technical workforce through its partnership with ShaleNET. This partnership will reach out to 27 counties across PA, WV and OH. The API founding partners are Chevron Appalachia LLC, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and RAND Corporation. The initiative, which was developed through extensive discussions with education and workforce development experts, aims to address opportunities and challenges detailed in a recent Carnegie Science Center Study through the development of new programs and expansion of existing regional education and technical training partnerships.

Other highlights of the forum were presentations on:

  • “National Workforce Development Opportunities,” Sean O’Toole, Baker Hughes
  • “National Trends and Various Resources that are Available to Educators,” Will Brackett, Powell Shale Digest
  • “Engaging Students for Oil and Gas Careers . . . Do We Need an App for That?” by OOGEEP
  • “Chevron (Mr. Tripp Oliver), Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Partnership” (Dr. James Denova); Western Area Career and Technology Center (Dr. Dennis McCarthy)
  • “Energy Education: Beyond the Science Class,” Dan Weaver, PIOGA
  • “Preparing Today’s Workforce for Careers in the Oilfield,” Penn College of Technology, David Pistner

The ShaleNET Forum was an outstanding success measured by the evaluations of the attendees and the outstanding conference management provided by Penn State Extension. Another measure of success was the outstanding involvement of industry and industry associations, K-16; our local CareerLinks and Workforce Investment Boards; and the Friends of Drake Well, Inc.’s Mobile Energy Education Training Unit (MEET-U). 

Prepared by: Patrick E. Gerity, Ph.D., Vice President
Westmoreland County Community College