The Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD) will analyze industry needs to create education programs in growing job sectors with the help of $390,000 from the Alcoa Foundation.
Laura Fisher, ACCD Senior Vice President of Special Projects, said they plan to first attract talent to the region in order to fill positions in advanced fields. From there they plan to work with colleges and companies to build a curriculum that meets the energy industry’s needs.
She said the effort comes out of an analysis released last year that highlighted 14 occupations in high demand in the energy sector.
Fisher said out of those job types identified, only five required a bachelor’s degree with the remainder needing a certification or two-year degree.
She said the ACCD wants to help people learn an occupation rather than a job.
“If you pursue this certification or degree it has currency in many different industries,” Fisher said. “So if you’re working for a company that in fact moves its operations, the whole point here is not that you have to go back and learn to do something else, but you’re in demand in a whole host of other ongoing companies and concerns.”
Fisher said the new program will be modeled after ShaleNET, which brought new workers into the natural gas industry through companies defining what skills they need from workers and colleges then building programs to meet those needs.
She said they’re starting off by focusing on industrial maintenance technicians.
“Thirty or 40 years ago, which is the image many people still have of these jobs, they may have been sort of dirty and non-technical jobs,” Fisher said. “These are very high-skilled, high-tech jobs that require very strong analytic skills, math skills, technology skills.”
Fisher said 60 percent of the jobs they are addressing already exist and those fields will see many people retiring in the next eight to 10 years.