Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Community College of Allegheny County says it will begin offering new degree and certificate programs specifically designed to create graduates ready to work in the Marcellus Shale fields of Pennsylvania. CCAC Allegheny County Workforce Alliance Executive Director Charles Blocksidge says the college began by looking at all the skill sets in demand in the shale gas industry and then tweaking the classes already in place to make sure they fit the needs. Blocksidge says for students already enrolled in welding or other in-demand-skills classes, graduates will be ready to take jobs in a few weeks. Others just starting such programs could have the skills in as little as 15 weeks. At the same time, the school will be building new programs to answer demand. Blocksidge says those new programs include a welding associate’s degree aimed at the skills needed to build natural gas transmission lines, a bio-remediation certificate which includes a partnership with Frac Biologics and Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, a drilling industry certificate which will be a non-credit, short-term training program addressing many of the skill sets in electronics, instruments and controls needed by mechanics and other industry personnel, and a First Responder PA DOH certification to train individuals who might be first on the scene of an industrial type emergency. Blocksidge says, “Current state and regional proposals focus on helping individuals become entry-level field workers for the industry. CCAC also wants to position itself to serve those industry employees who seek more substantial positions in the industry and to assist entry-level workers in their move up career ladders.” In all, the college identified 11 existing associate’s degrees and 10 credit certificate programs that align with industry workforce needs. Blocksidge says additional programs, both credit and non-credit, have substantial overlap with skills required by positions in the industry.