ALLIANCE, Ohio — The next generation of workers for the oil and gas industry are in training at Marlington High School in Alliance, Ohio.
A pilot program between the Ohio Department of Education and Marlington High School began this year, and there are 22 students in the program, which is designed to be a two-year program.
The students said the excitement for the program set in as soon as they heard about it.
“I see a lot of opportunities in the industry and this program is teaching us the diverse skills we’ll need,” said student Darrian Nelson.
“The stuff we are learning will help me in the future to get a job,” added Otha Loving, a junior in the program. “What we have learned so far is pretty cool.”
The students are almost finished with one quarter of the school year and the excitement remains because they get to do hands-on learning and, for many, they’re developing new skills.
Since this is the first year, there is an advanced senior class that will offer an accelerated version of the two-year program, including the written portion of the commercial drivers license test.
Bob Givens returned to Marlington High School to start the program, after retiring as the natural resources program instructor.
Before starting, he talked to industry officials to find out what they are looking for in employees. Then he went built the curriculum and made sure it will teach the skills oil and gas employees need to make it in the industry.
By networking in the industry, Givens developed partnerships to teach the students what they need to know, and partners are helping provide backhoe, bulldozer and excavator experience for the students.
Leppo Equipment in Canton and the Canton office of Columbus Equipment Company have helped by ensuring there is equipment for rent that the students can learn to operate.
Givens said he concentrates on one or two new skill sets for the students a day and builds on what they learned the day before, and above all, he emphasizes safety measures.
He said the students have also been concentrating on the terminology needed to work in the industry, which is important whether you are working on a drilling rig or some other part of the oil and gas industry.
Givens said many of the skills the students are learning are transferable to other industries like construction, mechanical, building or farming. The skills can also be utilized to obtain positions in building gas lines, site preparation for gas lines, maintenance of the gas lines and other pipeline work.
“It’s phenomenal the kinds of work going on all around us right now,” said Givens.
In addition, students have visited a gas well site to learn the conditions of the work site and what responsibilities the jobs available could mean for them.
So far, students have also learned surveying skills, forestry, soil and water conservation, hazardous material handling, chemical handling and site preparation.
Students are learning how to read maps and some legal documents so that they can be prepared if working in the industry and they need to talk to a landowner.
This winter, Givens has plans to teach the students about electrical systems, electric diagrams, plumbing, welding and masonry. He said the building will allow the students to learn about boiler systems and plumbing.
However, like any new program, this one comes with some challenges.
Givens said the loss of the school district’s shop, or industrial arts, class means he often has to teach about a technical subject from square one, including basic tool identification.
“Without it [shop class], you have to go back to the basics so that the students can be prepared for the oil and gas industry,” said Givens.
Givens said there has been interest from other schools wanting to create their own oil and gas program. For now, the program is expected to allow open enrollment for the program in 2013-2014 from neighboring schools such as United Local, Waterloo, West Branch and Stark County schools.