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Oil and gas training school accepting applications

Updated: Friday, May 23 2014, 06:23 PM EDT

With the oil and gas boom in the area -- and no real formal training offered to prepare workers for the industry -- a new school, the Utica Shale Academy, will give students the tools they need to enter the workforce.
There students learn the growing industry and founders hope it will keep young graduates in the area.
Open to any student in grades 9-12 in the state of Ohio, the academy serves a vocational school role.
Students will graduate with one of two certificates -- a rig pass or a safety certificate in well management. Once completed, they will be able to step directly on the well pad and begin working.
"We started with certificate and job ready right out of high school," Dr. Chuck Kokiko of Jefferson County Education Service said. "We also have a strong program for those that want to get an associate's degree in an oil or gas-related field. And also we're exploring options for those kids who may want to be in a petroleum project or four-year degree program."
The academy, sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, will be located at Southern Local High School. Students will take traditional courses like Math and English, but also participate in industry-specific classes.     
"They'll go through distillation and separation processes," Kokiko said. "They're going to look at drilling technologies. One of the first (classes) is just safety around a well site."
The lack of a link between the job market and preparing kids for a career was the concept behind the charter for the school.
But the academy can also serve an alternative purpose.  
"Not everyone is cut out to go to college and we need to find ways to keep our young people in this region after they graduate from high school," said Dr. Mark Furda, vice president of the Utica Shale Board of Governors.
As the industry in the area continues to grow, board members didn't want to sit back and wait.
"Ohio is becoming the fourth-largest oil drilling state so we need to be prepared for our workforce," said John Wilson, developer of the academy.
Kokiko said the school has begun accepting applicants. Organizers are hoping for the first class to have between 30 and 50 students.

Oil and gas training school accepting applications

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