West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 59

Turning Back the Clockfor a 20th-Century Skills 21st-Century Work Force “Manufacturing output and growth puts us among the top five states in the nation.” By Robbie Morris According to West Virginia’s economic development leaders, the state has an opportunity to learn from history and, perhaps, even turn back the clock on how business and education leaders advise students to plan their futures. The West Virginia job market is producing some high-paying jobs, and a high percentage of those jobs don’t require a four-year degree. By utilizing 20th-century skills to train a 21st-century work force, businesses and educators can fill the almost 1 million jobs in America in industries like manufacturing, welding and fabricating being created from a resurgence in energy and manufacturing sectors coupled with a quickly retiring work force. A Resurgence of Industry “We haven’t been able to say this in a long time, but if you’re a young person and you’re truly willing to work, the jobs—and I mean good jobs—are out there,” says Corky Demarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. “Look at our natural gas industry, for example. If a young person is willing to learn to weld pipe, that worker can make $100,000 a year. If you can drive a truck, you can make $50,000-$70,000 a year. If you are willing to work for one of the service companies and do general labor work, you will make a great salary.” Some sectors of business in West Virginia, though, are not performing as well as the oil and gas industry. While the state’s overall economic picture isn’t perfect, Demarco is confident the outlook for jobs will continue to grow, especially for those willing to relocate to the Mountain State. Rebecca Randolph, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association ExEdge (WVMA), echoes Demarco’s analysis. Nikolay Manufacturing accounts for 9 percent Gavrilovich of the state’s economic output and 6.3 Slavyanov was the Russian percent of its total work force, its highest inventor figures in years. who in 1888 “Thanks, in part, to recent upward introduced trends in manufacturing, West Virginia arc welding with metal is prospering, with income growth well electrodes, above national averages and a strong or gas metal state bond rating,” she says. “Manu- arc welding. facturing output and growth puts us Source: www. among the top five states in the nation.” evi.com/q/ facts_about__ nikolay_ slavyanov www.wvexecutive.com summer 2014 59