The skills needed by energy industry are very transferable

Gabriella C. Gonzalez, sociologist at the RAND Corporation:

“We need all different types of people to work in the energy sector, from either lower-skilled types of jobs that don’t require a lot of education but a lot of hands-on, applicable on-the-job training; all the way up to the types of jobs that require a doctorate or PhD in say nuclear physics - not that I would know what that type of job would entail.

“This region is also home to a lot of other sectors, so although the coal industry, for example, and national gas are here to stay, we can expect a lot of supply for the next 100 to 200 years.

“If there were downturn in those jobs, the type of workforce that is being trained now, focusing on general applied mathematics and just workforce competencies, should be able to show up on the job and do a job with a lot a critical thinking and problem-solving skills - those have the skills are very transferable to other sectors the health industry and education and government.

“So what we're creating now in the region are a set workplace skills and content knowledge that can be transferable, so we aren’t going to be finding ourselves in the same place as in the seventies and eighties when there was a downturn in the steel industry.”

The revenue generated from energy stays in the region where it's generated

Karen Clay, energy expert for the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University:

“In 1965, in Pennsylvania, steel was 8 percent of Pennsylvania’s GDP – this was highest value it had achieved over the course of the period in which we have this type of data - and for reference in 1965 energy was 1 percent of GDP.

“If you fast forward to 2012, steel is 1 percent of GDP and energy is 2 percent of GDP, so energy is trending up - in and in fact I saw the 2013 numbers and they look very similar to the 2012 numbers. But one thing to keep in mind is it's not clear that we're ever gonna be as dependent on energy as we are, or were, on steel.

“The other thing I want to mention for context is a really nice study I just saw on of fracking at the national level and one the things it talked about was how much money stays in the region.

“So they talked about the fact that for every million dollars that was extracted 7 percent was staying in the county and 36 percent was staying in the state. And I actually think those numbers are pretty favorable. If you'd asked me just a guess before I saw the study I wouldn't have known.

“And of course we all know that there's good news on the jobs front, because this study, like many other studies, tells us that basically for every oil and gas job we get two other jobs in addition. So for the future looks bright.”

What has been the international impact of shale gas on international market?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman:

"What has been the international impact of the growth of energy in in our area? Has it had any appreciable impact on the international market?"

Gabriella C. Gonzalez, sociologist at the RAND corporation:

"So I did speak to some economists at RAND on that topic, because of course I wanted to make sure that I had an answer, and they responded with 'no.'

"That for the short term, right now, a lot of the national gas that we produce and we frack from the region is not having a demonstrable impact on the international market. Maybe some of your analysis (Karen Clay) might speak to this also, but ... at least that's in the short term.

"And partly that is because it is difficult for us to export it except to close proximity countries like Mexico or to Canada. Certainly we're decreasing our imports from Canada and Mexico and there's a shift within Canada because of that. So we are certainly having a small impact on our more local neighbors."

How much of an economic boom will energy industry be in the region?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman:

“What will this region be like in the year 2030? Obviously it is hard to predict, but will this be a prosperous, vibrant area? Will our institutions like the symphony and the opera be flourishing? Will housing prices be really high? Will we be a net importer of jobs?

“Anyone wanna answer that?”

Karen Clay, energy expert for the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University:

“I do you think that it's going to be a period of prosperity and I actually was reflecting on the fact that I do you expect housing prices to rise and we should be careful about the bubble because we all know what happened in other places with the bubble.

“So just keep in mind that Pittsburgh has always been a short of slow and steady place and you should a expect it will revert there at some point.

“Typically, the evidence suggests that a per capita income in the region may go up by 5 or 10 percent, so I don't expect that it's going to be that everyone will be driving a BMW, but I do think that it will help, importantly, lift people in the bottom half of the income distribution out of poverty. Help improve their prospects and I think that that's an enormous blessing of the shale gas finds.”


Reuters Energy

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