It is encouraging to know Sen. Glenn Coffee, one of the two most powerful men in the state senate, was impressed with the oil and gas training program at High Plains Technology Center.
He should be impressed, because it is a quality program.
The Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Training Center was actually formed in 2003 with the assistant of a grant from the Department of Labor. A second grant extended the program, but the federal funding is due to run out Nov. 30 and the grant will not be renewed a third time.
That was not unexpected, which is where the state enters the picture.
The oil and gas training center at High Plains is one of the real success stories of a public-private partnership.
In short, the school puts together the training program and energy companies provide much of the equipment – some $2.2 million worth – and the students.
The result has been around 5,000 trained workers for oil and gas companies in this area and parts of other states. It has been successful enough that High Plains operates a satellite program in eastern Oklahoma.
Training areas include oil and gas production, well servicing, oil and gas drilling, well control and off-road operations. Training is offered in English and Spanish.
With the public grant and industry company support, there are no out-of-pocket expenses to the students.
This is as win-win as it gets.
Add in the fact that the energy sector continues to grow – and Northwest Oklahoma is a big player in energy – and this program needs to continue.
Perhaps more metro area legislators should visit High Plains Technology Center and see the program in person. They would realize these types of training programs benefit the entire state, not just a certain area.
Sen. Coffee indicated he would try and find a way to fund the training center – which officials at High Plains estimate costs between $80,000 and $100,000 a month to operate.
The legislature needs to fund this program. It needs to be a high priority.
In an energy-rich state, training like that offered at High Plain will return benefits that more than offset the money the state provides.
Using the top number of $100,000 a month, the cost to the state is $1.2 million per year.
That’s a bargain in anyone’s book.