Low oil and natural gas prices have hit the industry hard, especially when it comes to jobs. Several companies have laid off thousands of employees in order to cut back spending. However, in one area of the U.S. the job market still seems to be booming, and finding work isn’t an issue.
The state of Pennsylvania seems to be going through a job increase rather than a decrease, and Randy Stroup of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is living proof of it, reports NPR in a recent interview.
Recently, Stroup completed the ShaleNet Training Program at Pennsylvania College of Technology. The program combines classroom time with hands on experience on a mock drilling rig. Now searching for work, Stroup says he has a positive outlook when it comes to the natural gas business that is occurring in the Marcellus Shale formation located in Pennsylvania:
There is a great abundance of natural gas in the area … and the country needs cheap and efficient, clean-burning fuels like natural gas.
Currently, more than 100 students have finished the roustabout training and 98 percent of them were able to acquire jobs immediately. Most of the jobs the students were able to get have an average pay of $16.15 per hour. According to Tracy Brundage, vice president for Workforce Development at Pennsylvania College of Technology, it is very common that if one is putting in several hours of overtime that a roustabout will earn up to $70,000 to $80,000 per year. Other universities across the U.S. are also offering programs related to the energy industry. The following list of schools that offer such classes and programs was put together by Breaking Energy:
-University of Colorado – Boulder
-Louisiana State University
-University of Houston
-University of Texas – Austin
Along with teaching students how to be a roustabout, the college also offers other skills that are important to the oil and gas industry, including welding and diesel engine repair. Currently, William Miller, 18, is learning all about repairing the diesel powered generators that are used by drillers. Miller, who plans on graduating from his program in a few years, is confident that he will have no trouble at all finding work.
The reasoning behind Pennsylvania’s job boom is a little thing called “the great crew change.” As the industry explains it, after the oil boom in the 1980’s, several companies stopped hiring workers which left the industry with an aging workforce that is now vanishing. As reported by Reuters, during 2013, Schlumberger, the largest oil and gas company in the U.S., predicted that the industry would be short about 15,000 petroleum engineers and geoscientists by 2016. The company also predicted that the industry would need to hire 10,000 new petro-technical professionals each year through 2020 in order to make up for the loss of workers and handle the needs of the industry’s growth. According Brundage, the best way to avoid a problem like the one the industry is going through now is to continue hiring the younger generations and train people to fill positions that will eventually be open.
Since the natural gas industry arrived in Pennsylvania, the number of well-paying jobs has increased immensely. The most recent figures show that more than 31,000 people in Pennsylvania have jobs that are related to the natural gas industry. Even though the industry as a whole has slowed down, thanks to low energy prices, job growth as a whole for the state continues to grow.