CHARLESTON, W.Va. — All two dozen students who recently completed two-year training certificates for jobs in the Marcellus shale industry got jobs and they are making about $70,000 a year according to state Community and Technical College Chancellor Jim Skidmore.
Skidmore updated state lawmakers Tuesday on the program that is offered at Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont and West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling. He said there’s room for growth at both campuses.
“We could have a total of 100 students at each,” he said. Recruitment efforts are underway.
Chancellor Skidmore said students aren’t earning engineering degrees but certificates where they can work as technicians at the many drill sites in West Virginia. He said there will be those types of jobs in the industry for the foreseeable future.
“There are more and more companies moving in, the drilling keeps increasing. So we don’t expect that demand to go down over the next 10 to 15 years,” the chancellor said.
The programs do have several needs. Currently there’s an indoor drill site simulator and one outdoor, somewhat older, type drill site classroom. Skidmore said the programs need three simulators.
“To offer a really, high-quality, state-of-the-art program and with this industry the potential it has we should do that, we need the outdoor simulator. Will we ever get 200 students without it? I don’t know,” Chancellor Skidmore said.
The program is seeking help with equipment from drilling companies. State Sen. Sam Cann, D-Harrison, said if after two-years of training someone can make $70,000 a year while staying in West Virginia the state should do all it can to make the training programs the best they can be.
“Maybe we need to quit dragging our feet and looking for handouts and get it done,” Cann said during Tuesday’s committee meeting.
Chancellor Skidmore also told lawmakers he’s seen no evidence that the companies drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale in the Mountain State will not hire West Virginians. He’s said he has met with some of the companies.
“I didn’t hear anybody saying they didn’t need these folks and they would not hire West Virginians. I think they will because when they get the skills we give them they will hire West Virginians,” he said.