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WCCC's ShaleNET natural gas job training program receives national award

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Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County Community College's ShaleNET natural gas job training program was honored recently with a national award, a school official told trustees on Wednesday.

WCCC received a 2013 Exemplary Program Award for nine-credit programs from the National Council for Workforce Education. The council is an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Pat Gerity, WCCC's vice president of continuing education, workforce and community development, said he accepted the award in Milwaukee last week. He presented the small clear and blue glass etched statue to trustees at their monthly meeting.

WCCC was chosen from nine finalists for the award that especially recognized ShaleNET's innovation and partnerships with industry, Gerity said.

“We were a community college that stepped up to make an impact with a new industry,” Gerity said.

In 2010, WCCC led a consortium of educators and industry members to form ShaleNET, a program funded by a Department of Labor grant to train workers for a variety of entry-level jobs in the natural gas industry.

Students take courses in areas such as roustabout, floor hand and commercial driver's license.

Last fall, the college partnered with Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport for a second phase of ShaleNET funding that enabled the program to expand, develop a hybrid classroom and online curriculum, and create “stackable” credentials, putting students on a fast track to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree.

“This grant and (program officials') efforts really positioned WCCC in a leadership position,” WCCC President Daniel Obara said.

The program trained 978 students with 20 training providers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York from July 2010 through June.

ShaleNET placed graduates with more than 125 employers throughout the United States, according to the program's description in the award program.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or

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