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Washington, D.C. – Wyoming needs workers by the hundreds to fill vacancies in the oil and gas industry. U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee and Department of Labor Secretary, Elaine L. Chao announced today a $2.4 million federal grant to establish a training program in Casper for workers to meet this need.

“We need to put the right people in place in order to realize the state’s full potential. Current workers are retiring and many training programs put in place during the last energy boom have been dismantled. We need the ability to put skilled workers in place as fast as possible. Opportunity is knocking. This grant and the training program it will help establish will help us open the door,” Enzi said. “The skill and literacy requirements of today’s and tomorrow’s workplace cannot be met if we do not provide everyone access to lifelong education, training and retraining. Competition is fierce in the world and I will continue to work on more initiatives like this one for the good of Wyoming and the country.”

“The increasing demand for energy resources is creating new jobs in the oil and gas industry and this means good career opportunities for Wyoming workers who have the right skill sets,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “Today’s $2.4 million grant provided under the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative helps workers who are interested in accessing these new job opportunities to get the job training they need to succeed.”

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services through the Wyoming Contractors Association in partnership with the Wyoming Business Council, Casper Area Economic Development Agency and the McMurry Foundation plan to use the money to build the capacity of workers to obtain quality jobs with high wages and establish a basic safety training program for 1,500 new workers for Rocky Mountain oil and gas industry jobs. The program is part of President Bush’s High Growth Job Training Initiative to make sure that we have the trained workers needed for jobs critical to our economy.

Training program organizers plan to train 30 workers each week for 50 weeks at the McMurry Regional Training Center on 76-acre simulated oil and gas field worksite near Casper. The course can span anywhere from five days to four weeks depending on skills the worker will be learning. The course will teach workers basic safety and skills in an industry that is challenged with increasing workload and too few workers. Some workers have already been trained and this grant will increase the capacity. Safety training for heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, crane operators and safety coordinators will also be part of the training program.

Industry stakeholders have conservatively estimated that the industry needs 1,500 workers in Wyoming and 5,000 in the region.