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MSETC Issues Statewide Workforce Needs Assessment

The Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center has released a study assessing the direct workforce needs required to support Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania from 2011-14. The total number of direct jobs needed to keep pace with the growth of the industry is expected to range from 18,596 to 30,684, including 9,800 to 15,900 new positions.

The study expands two prior regional studies published by the MSETC, a collaborative venture between Pennsylvania College of Technology and Penn State Cooperative Extension. It outlines the key occupations associated with natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, as well as the number of direct jobs that will be needed to bring a gas well into production between 2011 and 2014.

The purpose of the study is to provide individuals, job seekers, communities, businesses, workforce- and economic-development professionals, and government officials at all levels with the ability to estimate the direct workforce requirements for Marcellus Shale development.

The study reveals that energy companies operating in Pennsylvania are projecting a 60-percent increase in the number of wells being drilled by 2014 compared with 2011. The model utilized for the study indicates that each well requires a workforce of approximately 420 individuals working across 150 different occupations. The resulting impact on Pennsylvania’s job market will be significant. The study’s method for forecasting jobs is based on rig counts and wells to be drilled. The companies have forecast rig counts in ranges rather than specific numbers, resulting in job estimates also being provided in ranges.

The study breaks down the growth impact by regions within Pennsylvania. Job growth in northeast Pennsylvania, which already has seen tremendous initial expansion, is forecast to increase at a relatively moderate rate.

In the southwest region of the state, the rate of growth will be significant, as the industry works to build more infrastructure for gas processing. With the recent dramatic increase in interest in high-BTU gas, and the premium price commanded for liquids-rich natural gas, the southwest region appears poised for resurgence in shale gas development related to the Marcellus, Utica and other Upper Devonian Shale formations.

The northwest region of the Pennsylvania will see an increase in the number of wells drilled. Growth in the northwest has been limited thus far and will initially be concentrated at the southern and eastern boundaries of that region.

There has been no drilling activity in the southeastern region of Pennsylvania; however, there will be an increase there in the growth of service industries supporting the natural gas industry.

The study also notes the growing number of Pennsylvania residents in the natural gas industry workforce statewide. Since the technologies used in development are relatively new, the early stages of development in Pennsylvania relied heavily on out-of-state employees with experience and knowledge developing high-pressure natural gas. Although there still is tremendous variability across energy, service and support companies associated with natural gas development, the study’s interviews and survey data reveal the percentage of new industry employees who are Pennsylvania residents averages between 65 percent and 75 percent.

The assessment focuses solely on the direct workforce needs of the industry and does not include indirect or induced employment impacts. The projections are not intended to serve as a measure of the total employment created by Marcellus Shale natural gas development or to estimate the economic impact of such development. Other recently released workforce studies estimate overall employment and economic impact of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania using “multipliers” to estimate job creation in sectors other than those directly associated with bringing a Marcellus well into production (lodging, food and retail, for example).

The report provides the best current estimate of the direct workforce required to bring a Marcellus well into production, and it should be viewed as a subset of total employment created by Marcellus Shale development. No industry funds were used in developing the assessment.

For a full copy of the report, visit online or contact the MSETC at 570-327-4775.

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