Educational program focuses on oil, gas jobs

VIENNA – In an effort to reach out to the community about current and upcoming available jobs in the oil and gas industry, a local college held an informational program Saturday at Grand Central Mall.

“We are focused on the oil and gas industry and the jobs coming into the area with it,” said Brenda Kornmiller, dean of Business Engineering and Industrial Technologies for Washington State Community College in Marietta. “It is coming our way – part of it is already here – and we want to be ready for it when it reaches the Mid-Ohio Valley.”

About 100 interested and curious people stopped by the mall’s center court during the four-hour Washington State Community College Oil and Gas Meet and Greet.

“For the first time we have held an event like this, I feel like it went even better than I thought it would,” Kornmiller said.

Industrial Technology professor Kent Hall said the Mid-Ohio Valley needs to have good, well-trained students to supply the industry moving into the area.

“There is a demand in the industry and we need to fill the positions locally,” said 2013 WSCC graduate Dillon Strahler, who is now employed as a geographical information systems technician with S&A Property Research in Parkersburg.

Area companies involved in the oil and natural gas boom participated in the event in an effort to show prospective students and future employees what jobs need to be filled.

“We have been a traditional oil and gas producer in the area for 35 years and as the shale industry continues to develop we have had to grow and provide new and different services,” said Eddy Biehl, general manager of Stonebridge Operating Co. in Marietta. “By working with Washington State, we are able to see the new direction of the industry with new employees with the latest training.”

Both Kornmiller and Hall said the exploration and development of natural gas from Utica Shale in areas surrounding Washington County is moving into the local area and bringing jobs that offer wages that can double the national average.

“These employment opportunities hold considerable promise for economic growth for our area,” said Kornmiller. “Through the courses, degrees and certificates available at Washington State, we can offer these companies a highly trained local base of employees.”