Workforce Crisis: GTI Program Aims To Pre-empt Worker Shortage

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | February 2009 Vol. 64 No.2

Editor's note: This article continues Underground Construction's series on the labor crisis facing many segments of the construction industry, which emphasizes the importance of education and training. See other recent articles in the series: 3 4 5 6]

To effectively perform their jobs, new employees must be trained or retrained with the necessary skills.

Toward that goal, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) has developed a Certified Operators Technician Training Program, a 70 hour college level course designed to introduce students to the natural gas industry and provide the skills necessary for several types of in the field jobs.

GTI's plan is to make the training program available through community colleges. LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, NY, was the first to adopt the program, and the first course was completed the week before Christmas.

"Eight students enrolled in the program in October and attended classes two nights a week," said Allen Cohen, director of Laguardia career and professional programs.

"All eight completed the course and received certificates from GTI for the Certified Operations Technician (COT) level."

Goals

The goal of the LaGuardia program is to provide skilled workers for Consolidated Edison Company of New York, National Grid and other utilities. Instructors included two from GTI and one from Consolidated Edison.

"The academic part of the program was a success because all the students passed and were certified by GTI," said Cohen. "The reason students enrolled in the program was to find employment working in the gas industry, so success of the program also depends upon outcomes. GTI is working with Con Edison to facilitate students being able to gain employment in an entry level position that would pay about $17 per hour and benefits with a chance for a career."