Energy Industry in Okla. Rebuilds Work Force

Article excerpt

In 2003, a task force formed by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission said regenerating the work force at all levels was one of the greatest challenges facing the domestic energy industry.

The task force was formed in 2001 by North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven to investigate a decrease in the ranks of domestic petroleum professionals - geologists, engineers and geophysicists.

Suggestions made in 2003 by the task force included a coordinated effort including industry, government and educational institutions to rebuild the work force.

The 2003 task force's suggestions were not ignored. In a newly released follow-up report from the task force, Hoeven reported "an encouraging increase in the number of qualified petroleum professionals."

Enrollments in petroleum-related majors at U.S. colleges are rising, according to the new report. More scholarships, internships and other programs have been added to attract students to energy programs.

Oklahoma's energy industry has been actively promoting expanded training efforts.

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board in collaboration with Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City developed the OERB PetroTech Certification Program.

The program was created to provide training and certification to fill available jobs as geological, engineering or land technicians. Certification assures employers of skill levels of potential employees. Students must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for the program.

"Our goal for this program is to fill a void within the industry for trained technological positions," said Mindy Stitt, OERB executive director. "We are filling this void by providing a prospect to individuals who may not have had the desire or ability to go to college but have a desire to work in the industry."

The Oklahoma oil and natural gas industry also is offering $250,000 in college scholarships during the current academic year through OERB. …