Skip to main content

College, Cooperative Extension Announce Training Venture

Pennsylvania College of Technology and Penn State Cooperative Extension are collaborating to form the Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center, which will provide a wide variety of resources to the community and the oil-and-gas industry.

The center’s primary goals are to provide concise and accurate information for the public, to offer workforce-development services to assist with the anticipated large increase in workforce needs of the industry, and to serve as a central access point for the natural-gas industry to the vast resources of The Pennsylvania State University and Penn College, which is a special mission affiliate of Penn State.

Natural-gas exploration activities have escalated dramatically in 2008 in central Pennsylvania, and the industry is moving at a rapid pace to extract the natural gas contained within the region. Central Pennsylvania is located in the heart of the Marcellus Shale play, and the region is expected to experience substantial economic growth over the next several years. That growth will result in numerous economic and workforce-development impacts, including community and workforce needs.

The center’s initial emphasis will be to establish a central information and training resource both for the industry and the community. Penn State Cooperative Extension has been providing a variety of public-information sessions geared toward informing the community on the issues surrounding the development of the Marcellus Shale play. Penn College offers a wide variety of credit and noncredit workforce-development programs that complement the industry’s workforce needs from technical and managerial perspectives.

“Existing programs will be leveraged and modified to provide these specialized services,” said Larry L. Michael, executive director of workforce and economic development at Penn College. “We envision two primary sources contributing to the development and operation of the center.”

The sources are:

  • Penn College’s technology-based programs, including welding, heavy-equipment operations, diesel technologies and computer technologies
  • Penn State Cooperative Extension’s outreach programs on gas leasing and gas-lease development, water quality and the environment, forestry, and economic and community development

“Penn College’s existing programs will provide the foundation of faculty, student and equipment resources to serve the industry,” said Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour. “We are committed to working with the natural-gas industry to develop programs designed to specifically support this exciting new industry in our region, and we anticipate becoming a vital regional resource in providing a well-trained and knowledgeable workforce.”

“Our goal at Penn State Cooperative Extension is to help ensure this resource is developed for the benefit of Pennsylvania and its communities while protecting our environment, said Penn State Cooperative Extension Director Daney Jackson. “This partnership with Penn College will help our citizens and small businesses share in the benefit across the commonwealth and keep more of the value of this natural resource in our communities.”

The center plans to coordinate and offer a wide variety of services including:

  • Facilities for meetings and events
  • Workforce-needs assessment
  • Workforce-development and training services
  • Technology-transfer services: product development, testing services/access to labs (civil engineering/surveying, welding, machining, electronics, diesel mechanics, pneumatic/hydraulics, etc.), and research
  • Direct access to Penn College internships, placement office and advisory boards

A workforce-needs assessment will be performed over the next several months in an effort to forecast the skill needs and number of workers required to support the natural-gas industry. It is envisioned that colleges, universities and regional career and technical centers will all play a significant role in providing many of the workforce-training programs that will be needed.

Central operations of the center will be located in Penn College’s Center for Business & Workforce Development on the college’s main campus in Williamsport. Additional facilities will be utilized for specific needs including Penn State Cooperative Extension offices, Penn College’s North Campus in Wellsboro and various Penn State campus locations.

For additional information, contact Larry Michael at (570) 327-4775 or James Ladlee, Penn State Cooperative Extension, at (570) 726-0022.

Subscribe to PCToday Daily Email