Pa. Shale Drillers Say Professional Help Wanted

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Companies operating in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions say it has been a challenge to fill openings in engineering, geology, environmental health and other professional fields.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas drilling industry trade group, on Wednesday released a workforce survey of more than 100 of its members. The companies said that finding qualified talent and getting prospective employees to relocate are the biggest challenges they face when it comes to hiring.

Of the most difficult positions to fill, 49 percent were in professional fields and 15 percent were in management, the survey found. A majority of the respondents called for more four-year degree programs in fields such as petroleum technology, engineering and environmental sciences.

About half the industry's new hires last year were equipment operators or work in operations and maintenance, according to the survey. About 57 percent came from Pennsylvania, while 19 percent were from Ohio and 13 percent were from West Virginia.

The companies that took part in the survey, primarily drilling, pipeline and related companies, said they plan to add 4,000 jobs this year.

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