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Industry, Labor Team Up to Head Off WV Skilled Worker Shortage

January 18, 2008

Clarksburg, WV – A looming shortage of skilled construction workers has prompted a unique training program in West Virginia. It kicks off this week, bringing together labor and industry to address the problem.

Boilermakers' Union Local 667 has unveiled the training program near Clarksburg, using a power plant building provided by Allegheny Energy for some hands-on learning. Union spokesman George Pinkerman says both the company and the union are trying to ensure the state has local workers, fully trained and ready to meet future demand.

"There's gonna be a manpower shortage of welders, and we've set up a training center for journeyman upgrade, apprentice training, and also recruiting new members."

Pinkerman says part of the demand for more workers in the boilermaker trade stems from the need for pollution control, especially at coal-fired power plants. The union wants to be sure local workers are lined up to get those jobs, and the high pay that comes with them.

"With the pollution control, it's a big issue, and they're installing scrubbers to scrub the emissions that go out of their stacks to meet the pollution controls."

He adds there's already a waiting list for students at the site, and the union plans to bring in more trainers to meet the demand.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV