The following is a guest post by executive director of the Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium (NTIEC), Shealynn Shave on the recent grand opening of GasSearch Drilling Services’ (GDS) new facility in Lenox, PA:
As a girl who was born and raised right here in Susquehanna County, it’s an incredible feeling that more and more businesses are seeing the benefit of coming to our community and investing. I remember in high school, more times than not, we had businesses leaving our area. And as an example of recent development, it is really nice to see a company like GasSearch Drilling Services (GDS) build a new office in NEPA.
I am from the Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium (NTIEC) and for the last 26 years, we have made it our mission to bring employers such as GDS and our students in the northern tier together for conversations on our workforce and the demands that are needed and will be needing. By exposing our students to the endless possibilities of careers we have here, we will be able to build the skilled workforce that we need now and in the future.
Apprenticeships, internships, workplace tours and job shadowing experiences are just a few programs that play an important role in aligning students with their future careers. I cannot express it enough and I know business‐minded professionals will agree that the need to obtain workers is a dire need in northeast Pennsylvania. On a weekly basis, we hear employers coming to us asking for students and any other opportunities to be able to hire additional workers. They can’t find the workers period.
I have plenty of young adults coming back to us after they have entered college or some form of higher education looking for other possibilities because they are not happy with the pathway that they had chosen and now are facing endless amounts of debt. Just recently I had dinner with a friend that I met in college and she related that she had over $500,000 in student loans. That’s half a million dollars! Believe it or not, she is not working in the profession that she went to school for. It is important for our region’s stakeholders ‐ schools, businesses, organizations, parents and our community as a whole, to understand the workforce needs of the northern tier, now and in the future. By having businesses such as GDS establish local roots here shows that they are committed to staying and hiring our people.
Area students need to understand the value of having facilities such as the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center (SCCTC) and Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas (PNG) that can help them earn degrees locally and will set them up for a long‐lasting family‐sustaining careers. For decades we pushed the idea of “college for all” and that clearly is just not the case. We need more educational alternatives programs such as the newly created commercial driver’s license (CDL) program at the Susquehanna Career & Technology Center. Our area saw the need for CDL drivers and now we have an asset here to train and certify them and get them out working quicker.
NTIEC currently works with 17 school districts across 6 counties and we are finally seeing that more students are also engaging in dual enrollment programs in high school. This will allow our students to walk across that stage to not only receive a diploma but also a certification to already be a step ahead of the game to becoming employed.
I encourage you to take every opportunity to educate yourselves to the pathways and employment possibilities that we have here in the region. Shadow Days at the School of PNG and tours of the SCCTC are available upon request as an example.
We have been very fortunate that GDS has seen the need for our career readiness programs as they continually partner with NTIEC on several occasions throughout the year. We are also lucky enough to have GDS’ operations manager, Chad Gorman on our board for the last few years as he values and sees the importance of educating our youth. Again, we are so fortunate to have a facility and organization like GDS come to our area and we as a whole need to ensure that we can help them to attract the workforce that they need by educating ourselves and relaying information back to our circles.
Congratulations to GDS on their many accomplishments and we are looking forward to helping them achieve their workforce demands.
Listen to Shealynn Shave’s comments from the GDS Open House: