Some parts of gas worker training can’t be legislated

Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is introducing legislation geared to making gas industry jobs more accessible to Pennsylvanians than out-of-state workers.

First off, we appreciate the thoughts behind Casey’s Marcellus Shale on the Job Training Act, which would authorize grants to strengthen on-the-job training programs to help ensure natural gas drilling jobs go to Pennsylvanians.

However, there are two large buts to this legislation.

We would hope the details of the bill don’t include anything that hamstrings the decision-making process of companies when they are doing their hiring. That’s a big no-no.

Companies have to be given the freedom to hire the best person for any job, no matter where the person’s home address is.

And we also would hope that those benefitting from on-the-job training programs realize that the most important element to getting and maintaining a job in the gas industry cannot be legislated.

It’s called desire.

Gas industry jobs are legendary for being lucrative – and demanding. There are unusual and long work schedules to deal with, there is usually rugged physical labor involved, and most people working in the industry have to be willing to travel and be flexible about changes that occur after they take a job.

Not all of those job requirements can necessarily be taught and acquired by workers. A lot of that speaks to worker mindset.

We appreciate the point behind Sen. Casey’s legislation, so long as best hiring practices and best worker characteristics aren’t legislated.