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Over 700 Attend Chesapeake’s Employment Event

By Staff | Aug 25, 2010

When the doors opened at the Aug. 18 Chesapeake Energy job open house at 10 a.m. the line of employment seekers already reached the parking lot from the PPG McKenna Shelter. (Photo provided)

On Aug. 18 over 700 people from the tri-state area came to Proctor seeking information on local natural gas drilling industry jobs. Chesapeake Energy facilitated the search by hosting an employment information open house at the PPG McKenna Shelter and although the event was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., jobseekers were queued at the shelter entrance as early as 8 a.m. The event had been advertised online, on local radio stations, and in Ohio Valley print media.

Some men came in jeans and steel-toed work boots, while others wore ties and carried brief cases. Although several had e-mailed their credentials in advance, many hand carried resumes listing their education and work experience as welders, truck drivers, heavy equipment mechanics, field technicians, laborers, factory workers, coal miners, office managers, and a myriad of occupations as different as their faces and ages.

Workers were first asked about employment experience by a representative from Self Opportunity of Lewisville, Texas, who operates a full service independent recruitment solutions company and co-organized the open house with Chesapeake. Directions were then given to any of several job lines in which people were interviewed in greater detail and resumes were accepted.

At one table field recruiters such as CHK’s John Jukes asked questions such as, “What kind of work are you looking for?” or “What’s your background?” as his stack of resumes mounted. Other employment seekers went to tables manned by wholly owned subsidiaries of Chesapeake such as NOMAC, a drilling company; Hawg Haulers, a trucking business; Hodges Trucking; Great Plains Oil Field Rental; and Diamond Y Inc., who provide rig-up and transportation services. Information was given about entry level positions in gas field jobs such as floorhand, roustabout, or more skilled jobs like pipeline technicians, pumpers, water transfer technicians, and others.

Although about 95 percent of the interested job seekers were men, women attended the open house also. One Wileyville woman, who was already driving a pilot car for a local trucking firm, brought her friend who also hoped to find work. Women asked about jobs such as dispatchers, parts clerks, office managers, or outdoor work. As one woman was heard to say, “I’ll try anything they think I can do. I’m not afraid to work.”

At the end of the one-and-a-half hour interview process, some workers were asked to come back for additional interviews and others were directed to the CHK employment Web site to gain a better understanding of what jobs may match the seeker’s qualifications.

It was estimated that of the 700 or so in attendance, roughly half were seeking jobs as laborers or other starting level employee positions. A few high level management positions were sought and the rest fell into the skilled labor positions. Starting laborers such as roughnecks could expect to earn $18 per hour, while more skilled workers such as transfer technicians might make $40 per hour, depending on experience, with all full-time workers offered benefits.

CHK Coordinator of Corporate Development Ryan Dean said initially Chesapeake had to use experienced workers already in their employ, but they hoped to eventually transition to more of the workforce being supplied by locals, with some management staying on to oversee operations. Many more workers will be needed in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and in West Virginia statewide.

For each Marcellus Shale well being drilled there are an estimated 410 workers, representing 150 different occupations according to a 2009 Northern Tier workforce study. In that same year 710 Marcellus wells were drilled in Pennsylvania and 411 in West Virginia, with the creation of 13,249 jobs. CHK and its subsidiaries’ employment Web sites indicate there are literally hundreds of jobs available.

One obstacle to the higher. more specialized jobs is that locally many do not have gas field experience. However, some recruiters explained that their companies, such as Hawg Haulers, provide job training in Arkansas, with placement after training is completed. The difference in salary may be worth the sacrifice in training time, as an entry level truck driver salary may jump from $18.50 an hour to $30 or $40 as each subsequent driving certification is obtained.

Chesapeake also hopes to see the development of other types of gas field training programs locally. As more gas field jobs are filled by local workers, the future looks brighter for employment-challenged counties like Wetzel, Marshall, and Tyler. The 700 hopeful job seekers at the CHK open house indicate a local eager workforce, and matching jobs with workers has already begun.