This study was set in a consortium of four technical colleges, considered hubs, in three states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas) but ultimately also served students in adjacent areas such as West Virginia and New York. The program was set up under a TAACCCT grant to develop stackable credential training programs and establish career pathways in the shale oil and gas industry. The program offerings included: industry entry level certifications (short-term, noncredit), industry certificate programs (up to one year, for-credit programs), industry associate's degree (2-year, for-credit programs), and credits that could be applied towards an industry bachelor's degree in technology management.
The sample was mostly (96%) male, white (83%), and non-Hispanic (96%). Data were not available on Pell grant receipt, but program participants were eligible for participation in TAACCCT, and comparison group participants were receiving or had received employment-related services from other federally-funded employment programs.
The full treatment sample had an average age of 35.2 years and the comparison group had an average age of 33.5 years. No other sample characteristics were available for this group.
For the sub-sample of the Staff Assisted group, which represented 305 of the 353 students in the total sample:
69.2 percent of the treatment students had received a high school diploma or GED, 6.5 percent had received an Associates degree, and 12.4 percent had received their Bachelor's degree.
64.2 percent of the comparison students had received a high school diploma or GED, 6.7 percent had received an Associates degree, and 12.5 percent had received their Bachelor's degree.
ShaleNET is a Community Based Job Training grant funded by funded most recently by a Round 2 Trade Adjustment Assistance and Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL). A primary activity of ShaleNET hub staff members was to develop and enhance a series of stackable credential training programs that allowed individuals to follow career pathways in the shale oil and gas industry. This iteration of the ShaleNET initiative focused primarily on developing new curricula for industry certificate programs.
Intervention participants were completers in the Tier 1/Tier 2 industry entry level certifications in areas such as roustabout, floorhand, service unit operator, and welder's helper. These certifications required less than one year of training (non-credit). The program also included staff who brokered relationships and supported partnerships between the colleges and the oil and
gas industry. The sample included only students who exited prior to March 31, 2015 and for whom four quarters of outcome data were available. There were 3,947 such individuals. The intervention was especially strong because of the high level of integration with local industry partners, who created many hands-on opportunities and employment after credential attainment. Another strength was the multiple possible entry and exit points - a person could enter with some credit, build on it to attain a credential and then either continue for a better/different credential or degree or leave with marketable skills.
The comparison group was drawn from the population of individuals from the surrounding counties who received assistance with finding employment from federally-funded workforce programs in Pennsylvania during the same time period. The comparison sample excluded all individuals who received any training because training received through these alternative programs was almost always much longer than the 2-3-week ShaleNET noncredit programs.
Support for implementation
Each of the two sites had at least one career counselor who served as the primary liaison with ShaleNET students. Local industry partners worked closely with the colleges in developing programming. These partnerships made this an excellent example both because they contributed funding to the hubs, in-kind donations, and funding to support post-TAACCCT grant sustainability.