FBCC seeks to meet regional workforce needs

May 15th, 2013 | By | Category: 24-4: Language Revitalization, Tribal College News
By Vonnie Alberts

CREATING A SPARK. Fort Berthold Community College students train for energy-related

The Training for Regional Energy in North Dakota (TREND) Consortium is becoming a popular reference for job-seekers registering for educational and vocational training at five of North Dakota’s state and tribal colleges. Fort Berthold Community College (FBCC, New Town, ND), Williston State College, Bismarck State College, Sitting Bull College (Fort Yates, ND), and Turtle Mountain Community College (Belcourt, ND) banded together earlier this year, and were among the recipients of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program.

The TREND Consortium received $14.6 million, which will assist with expanding current energy-related programs, enhancing career navigation services, and creating new training programs with a focus on energyrelated occupations. Russell Mason Jr., president of FBCC, stated that his institution is at the very center of oil exploration in the Bakken formation, making the need for skilled, trained, and certified workers perhaps more acute on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation than anywhere else. To meet this need, FBCC is expanding its existing welding program, offering training for commercial driver’s licenses, and reviving its construction technology program. “The grant has created the opportunity to hire instructors, obtain simulators, and purchase at least one commercial truck for on-site training,” Mason announced. “Benefits for students completing our programs include steady employment, higher wages, and the possibility to advance in a career.”

Bob Woodle, FBCC math instructor and TREND Consortium liaison, added that FBCC is now able to offer training in heavy equipment operations, basic oilfield work, safety, and electrician certification. Utilizing distance education and cooperative agreements within the TREND Consortium, students will have the opportunity to interact with the other colleges to prepare for current and future career opportunities related to the region’s oil and gas production.

“With our critical and ongoing housing shortage restricting the ability to bring in workers and/or trainees, we need to be able to offer quality training to our local population,” Mason stated. “It’s imperative to maintain our relevance; as industry growth expands around us, we need to expand as well.”

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