Treasurer Mandel tours Pioneer Pipe

A Marietta business’ vocational training program for high school was the topic of discussion during a local visit by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel Monday afternoon.

Mandel toured Pioneer Pipe with company founder and chairman Dave Archer to learn more about the program and also see the economic effects of oil and gas exploration in the state.

“I’m here today to see the behind the scenes of all the jobs they created here and experience first hand how oil and gas is impacting jobs in Ohio,” Mandel said.

The construction, maintenance and fabrication company employs around 800 people, and the growth of the oil and gas industry has necessitated more trained welders, said Archer.

That need directly influenced the company’s formation of the School to Work program, which culls the top six students from each of three local vocational schools-The Washington County Career Center, Swiss Hills Career Center in Monroe County, and Mid-East Career and Technical Centers in Noble County-to train three hours a day at Pioneer Pipe’s Westview Avenue facility.

“These are seniors in high school. So our training program is like their afternoon lab,” he said.

The students are also eligible to work up to five hours a day while still in the program and earn $10 an hour while doing so.

If they successfully complete the program and graduate high school, they can join Pioneer Pipe fresh out of school as a second-year apprentice and earn 60 percent of a full-fledged journeyman’s hourly rate, said Archer. Journeymen make around $60 an hour, he said.

As oil and gas exploration continues to expand, ensuring Ohioans get the related jobs needs to be a priority, said Mandel.

Pioneer Pipe’s School To Work program is a good model to make that happen, he added.

“What Pioneer Pipe is doing to train local men and women to fulfill these (energy-related) jobs is an example of what we’d like to see all over the state,” said Mandel.

Last year, during the program’s first year, 15 of the 18 students graduated the program and all 15 are still employed at Pioneer Pipe, said Archer.

“We’re going to keep employing them. We’ve got plenty of work to do,” he said.

Mandel said he plans to take Pioneer Pipe’s success story back to state policy makers and use it to encourage them to support more vocational training programs.

“When state leaders are making budgetary decisions and other policy decisions, there are discussions about how much resources should be divested into career and technical training and my hope is investment in training for blue collar jobs is a priority for leaders on both sides of the aisle,” said Mandel.