Natural gas is changing the face of the American energy economy and employers are looking for a new generation of skilled employees to keep pace.   Speakers at Consumer Energy Alliance’s 2013 Energy & Manufacturing summit repeated the call for educators to prepare students for careers in the science, math, technology and engineering fields:

Rebecca Lucore, Chief of Staff, Bayer MaterialScience: “There’s a change we have to make in perception,” Lucore said. “We went through a period of time where there was an emphasis on a four-year degree. After that, we went through a period where that wasn’t enough and there was an emphasis on a masters’ [degree]. We still need that, but have gotten away from the fact that these jobs only need two-year technical degree.”

Peter Molinaro, Vice President and Senior Advisor for Government Affairs, Dow Chemical Co.: “With the return of affordable natural gas and natural gas liquids in the United States, the whole world picture has changed. This is probably the single greatest opportunity we have to restore the middle class in America.”

David Gornewicz, Organizer for Ironworkers International Union: “One thing that could stall the whole resurgence of energy and the manufacturing renaissance is a shortage of skilled manpower.”

Jim Cooper, Senior Petrochemical Adviser, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers: “…But if we don’t solve the workforce issue, just having all that gas down there isn’t really going to do us much good.”

Esther Bush, CEO, Urban League of Pittsburgh: “We know we can’t move forward with business as usual…But we also can’t move forward with the same excuses as usual.”

Anne Pastor, Program Manager, Pennsylvania Steel Alliance: “A worker shortage is a better problem to have than a work shortage.”

Chris Masciantonio, Co-chair, PA Steel Alliance; General Manager for Government Affairs, United States Steel Corp.: “U.S. Steel has added 5,600 employees, with 1,100 jobs added in Pennsylvania. Cheap natural gas has helped lower the cost of production, and pipeline development has help drive up demand for [our] … products.”