Mahoning, Columbiana counties benefit from ShaleNet funding

Mahoning and Columbiana counties have been Ohio’s biggest beneficiaries of a federally funded On-the-Job Training (OJT) program focused on the shale natural gas industry.

Nearly 50 workers at nine companies participated in the ShaleNet OJT program through the Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association (MCTA) and One-Stop Workforce System of Mahoning and Columbiana counties. The average wage of participating workers in Mahoning and Columbiana counties was $16.60 an hour. The average benefit to the employer was $3,148.69 per covered employee.

Mahoning and Columbiana counties utilized all of the $150,000 in OJT funding available to Ohio’s six designated Shale counties.

“WIA Area 17’s full dedication to the ShaleNet initiative validates our commitment to meeting the employment needs of both employers and jobseekers,” said Bert R. Cene, director of MCTA. “We will always seek to utilize alternative funding to leverage regular WIA allocations,” he added.

“I commend the Area 17 leadership for taking full advantage of the federal funding available for On-the-Job training,” said Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Michael Colbert. “Shale-related jobs have the potential to reinvigorate Ohio’s economy, and graduates of these training programs are well positioned to secure good-paying jobs in a rapidly growing industry.”

The U.S. Department of Labor created the ShaleNet grant in 2012 to fund a comprehensive recruitment, training, placement and retention program for high priority occupations in the natural gas drilling and production industry as well as first and second-tier suppliers.

In addition to funding on-the-job training, the ShaleNet grant funded the development of, a website that provide information on the shale natural gas drilling and production industry, the various occupations associated with the industry and a talent-match system.

For an employer, on-the-job training defrays the cost of wages for a newly hired employee during that worker’s initial training period.

An employer must sign a contract that stipulates that the employee will be paid a minimum of $11 an hour and that the position is intended to be permanent. The trainee benefits by gaining a needed skill that builds on previous training and employment. The training period covered by the program cannot exceed 13 weeks.

MCTA is the administrative and fiscal agent for federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds as well as the One-Stop System operator for Mahoning and Columbiana Counties.

With more than 25 years of experience in workforce development, MCTA provides job counseling and assessment and funding for occupational classroom training and on-the-job training to residents of Mahoning and Columbiana counties.