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Workforce Training and Muscle Memory Key to Appalachia Basin Success

By March 18, 2021April 13th, 2021No Comments

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PENN VALLEY, PA, U.S., March 18, 2021  — West Virginia University Director of the Bureau of Business & Economic Research John Deskins is very interested in West Virginia’s LFP, Labor Force Participation rate, while keeping an eye on the LFP in adjacent states Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Deskins is part of the Workforce Panel discussion, sponsored by the Frontier Group of Companies, at the Second Annual Appalachian Basin Real Estate Conference.

The one-day program, built around the Basin’s growing petrochemical industry based on abundant, inexpensive natural gas, will be presented March 25 by Shale Directories, at the Oglebay Resort, in Wheeling, WV.

“The Workforce Panel will demonstrate the vitality of the Appalachian Basin’s labor pool for companies looking to move into the Basin,” said Joe Barone, President and Founder, Shale Directories.

“To improve labor force participation we must look into the educational situation,” according to Deskins. “It’s crucial to invest in these areas.”

Many higher learning institutions, and even more forward-thinking high schools in the Tri-State Region are adding and adapting courses to meet the needs of today’s companies.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) selected Penn State Behrend as a lead partner for developing business and market opportunities created by Shell’s $6 billion ethane cracker polyethylene manufacturing complex in Beaver County, Pa.

Erie, Pa.-based Penn State Behrend provides connections to research support, materials testing and a talent pipeline that adds value to Shell’s massive investment 120 miles to the south, and associated growth in the plastics sector, according to DCED.

Given many companies rank workforce just as important as location when determining where to establish a presence, Deskins analysis of LFP garners a great deal of attention from companies, governments, etc.

Patrick Ford looks at the same data as does Deskins, and the Business Development Director for the Frontier Group of Companies has worked with the professor to better understand said data.

“If you don’t have a reliable/accessible/available workforce – a company can’t grow or expand,” according to Ford. “Companies are looking at making huge investments, and they must know where they can get the people needed for their operations.”

“We need to know what exactly a company demands to meet its workforce needs,” Ford said. “When training is necessary, we need to know what specifically is needed, and design and administer the needed training as quickly as possible.”
Ford said it’s possible that some training, which may have begun as a two-year associate’s degree, can today take a period of months as a certificate program. The goal is to give the student the training needed in as short a timeframe as possible.

An aging regional population is a consequence of the “heavy lifting” (literally) required during their working lives, Ford said.

But no amount of book learning can supplant the importance of on-the-job training, and with the generational skills and knowledge absorbed, what Ford calls “muscle memory,” an invaluable resource to any company, the shale basin possesses the world class workforce needed to sustain our region’s industrial renaissance.

For more information about Frontier Group of Companies and available sites in the Appalachia Basin and other areas, contact Pat Ford, 716.447.7587 or