Natural gas, education collaborations prepare next generation of workers

Alice Davis

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale was a blessing when its natural gas reserves were discovered more than a decade ago. We continue to reap its benefits today, from the local economic impact we see here in Susquehanna County to the cleaner air we’re experiencing as natural gas end use continues to overtake traditional fuels. Millions of Americans are benefiting from this resource every day, and the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center (SCCTC) is no different.

The SCCTC works to train students in a wide range of careers, including cosmetology, automotive technology, massage therapy and welding technology. Thanks to a partnership with a local natural gas company, Cabot Oil & Gas, our welding students recently got to work on a project in which they built a plunger lift training unit for the company. Projects like these teach the students about career paths they might not have thought about pursuing after graduation.

Collaborations like the one with Cabot are a clear example of the benefit we extend to students and the community. The SCCTC is providing a growing, professionally trained, homegrown workforce to an industry that will be here for decades to come. In fact, last year, our welding program had two students pass their API test for pipe welding. One student went on to work as a pipeline welder for Linde, and the other was accepted into the boilermakers union. Both of these opportunities are rare for an 18- or 19-year-old, especially because pipeline welders on average make $80,000 a year.

Domestic natural gas development provides families with low-cost energy and high-paying jobs. Only by expanding natural gas access and use will we create more competitive jobs for residents of Pennsylvania’s northern tier and Americans across the country.

Dr. Alice Davis is executive director of the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center in Springville, Pennsylvania.

Alice Davis

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