CHARLESTON — The first class of graduates from two state community and technical colleges’ Petroleum Technology Programs graduated in May, and the majority of the students have already landed jobs in West Virginia’s natural gas industry.
“Of the 10 graduates from Pierpont Community & Technical College and West Virginia Northern Community College, eight of them have already found industry jobs, some of which are paying $26.50 an hour or more,” said Dr. Sarah Tucker, interim chancellor for West Virginia’s Community & Technical College System.
Additionally, nearly 17 percent of the approximately 90 students that make up the Petroleum Technology Program’s second class (currently finishing their first year in the program) have been placed in summer internship positions with natural gas companies, Dr. Tucker said.
Under guidance by Gov. Earl Rayr Tomblin, the West Virginia Community and Technical College System has developed a number of programs to meet the needs of the energy sector, including mechatronics technology, instrumentation technology, applied process technology and electrical distribution technology.
Paul Schreffler, vice president and dean of Pierpont’s School of Workforce Development, said this is a good start for the program. “We are very proud of our first class of petroleum technology graduates and believe this program is a role model for training a more qualified West Virginia workforce while providing for the needs of the industries we have here at home.”
Karri Mulhern, director of Economic and Workforce Development, West Virginia Northern Community College, praised the leadership of Tomblin and Jim Skidmore, chancellor emeritus for West Virginia’s Community & Technical College System, and highlighted the foresight and commitment of natural gas industry representatives for developing the program in 2013.
“Representatives from Noble Energy, Dominion Energy, Southwestern Energy, Chevron, Chesapeake and other gas companies stepped up to the plate, both financially and through providing equipment and expertise, to create a world class program,” Mulhern said. “This has been a concerted effort focused on the single purpose of training West Virginia residents for jobs that keep them — and their skill sets — here at home.”
Corky DeMarco, president of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, said, “Pierpont, as well as Northern Community College, has done an exceptional job of building a program that both improves the skill set of West Virginians and provides a ready workforce for the gas industry. Gov. Tomblin and Chancellor Emeritus Skidmore were critical to launching the effort and we appreciate their direct involvement and participation.”
DeMarco says students can find very successful careers in the natural gas industry with just two years of college.
The Petroleum Technology Associate of Applied Science degree program focuses on the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required for success in technician-level jobs within the upstream petroleum production industry. The program includes 60 credit hours of study and prepares students for direct employment into the oil and gas industry.
For additional information, contact Tucker at (304)558-0087.