Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation has affected few places in Pennsylvania more than the Northern Tier. So Mansfield University
, located right in the midst of the state's new drilling hub, thought it made perfect sense to show its students, and the public in general, about the job opportunities that gas-drilling presents.
The university recently announced that it was creating The Marcellus Institute. Its first initiatives are two new degrees. One is a two-year program in natural gas production and services. It will come with five different concentrations in areas such as Geographic Information Systems and permitting and inspections. A new four-year degree is planned in safety management. Both majors are going through the approval process, but Mansfield plans to begin its first classes this fall.
Lindsey Sikorski, the institute's interim director, notes that while energy companies initially were hiring seemingly anyone who wanted to work for them in Pennsylvania, now they're seeking job applicants with specific skills and training.
"The need is there and the demand is there," Sikorski says. "We want students to have the opportunity to have employment while these companies are in the area." The new majors are specialized but will also teach skills applicable to fields such as manufacturing and health care.
The institute also plans to offer non-credit classes for workers who want to advance in or transition into the energy industry, as well as promote natural-gas jobs to local teens.
Source: Lindsey Sikorski, The Marcellus Institute
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen