Since the merger of Cabot and Cimarex, we at Coterra Energy find ourselves in a great position to assess the varying approaches to educating tomorrow’s workforce in our PNG plays in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas. Bill desRosiers, Coterra’s government affairs manager from Pennsylvania has spent time in the Midwest learning about operations in the Permian and Anadarko basins and meeting with educators there. And, recently, four strategic associates from Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma traveled to northeast Pennsylvania for an Energy Education Summit in the Marcellus shale.
Participants in the two-day event represented the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB), Education Partnership of the Permian Basin (EPPB), American Petroleum Institute (API) New Mexico, Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas (LC PNG), Northern Tier Industry Education Consortium (NTIEC), Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center (SCCTC), and Commonwealth Charitable Management.
Key topics included Coterra’s use of Education Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) in Pennsylvania to fund career and technical scholarships, deployment of the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit (MOLU) to area schools, expansion of dual-enrollment options, and creating new pathways and partnerships with institutes of higher learning like SCCTC and LC PNG.
“The Education Partnership of the Permian Basin, serves as the regional intermediary or backbone entity aligning opportunities and resources from cradle to career, primarily in our education systems in the Permian Basin,” noted Becca Myers, strategic initiatives and collaboration coordinator for the organizations. “One of our main initiatives on the career-end of that spectrum is to help align K-12, higher education, and industry partners so that more students are entering the workforce prepared for their career.”
In addition to LC PNG, participants visited a Coterra drilling and production site, the SCCTC outdoor welding lab and the Center’s CDL Training Center. Later, Coterra hosted a networking event at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton RailRiders’ stadium, to which a number of other economic development partners were invited to meet and talk with those who had participated in the Summit.
“We had a lovely time learning, collaborating, and sharing knowledge,” said Fayth Franzoy, associate director of public affairs for API New Mexico.
“The Summit was an excellent opportunity to learn from other industry groups about how they are supporting workforce development,” added Lisa Schwartz, OERB education director. “Investing in the next generation of our workforce is one of the OERB’s core missions.”
A common theme among Summit participants was the importance of both community and industry support for career-based education. But the visits to SCCTC and LC PNG were eye-opening for some of the participants.
“One thing our region has not been able to figure out yet is the hands-on industry partner engagement directly with students,” Becca Myers remarked. “We have all the pieces right in our backyard, and being able to experience and meet people making it possible in Pennsylvania was exciting and inspiring.”
“Each of the operational areas for Coterra have different challenges related to education and workforce deployments,” Bill desRosiers offered. “I’ve spent the last six months learning of these challenges and, through working with this team from across the country, we are finding opportunities.”
“The education needs in every basin vary,” Fayth Franzoy agreed. “This is clearly demonstrated in the Permian Basin, which straddles New Mexico and Texas. Although the workforce needs across the basin are similar, the two states have different educational environments. The importance of bringing together stakeholders as this summit did is paramount.”
The underlying strategy of focusing on career and technical education as a feeder to the energy industry’s workforce is the key focal point right now. The support of this in each area will be different but equally impactful once we get some new initiatives in motion.