North American Oil & Gas Pipelines

OCT 2018

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines covers the news shaping the business of oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance in North America, including pipeline installation methods, integrity management innovations and managerial strategies.

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26 North American Oil & Gas Pipelines | OCTOBER 2 018 By Lou Thompson B uilding and maintaining America's more than 2.5 million miles of pipelines requires a diverse army of professionals. From welders, heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, contractors and laborers, to a vast ar- ray of supporting trades and logistics professionals, it takes a specialized workforce to keep the pipeline indus- try moving. Unfortunately, the pipeline indus- try faces a skilled trades shortage im- pacting projects across the continent. In April, the Washington Post de- scribed "an unprecedented skilled labor shortage" caused by retiring in- dustry veterans and a generation of high school graduates disinterested in blue-collar work. As the Post ex- plained, high schools nationwide are emphasizing college-placement and STEM courses. They often exclude vocational training toward skilled trade professions. Making matters worse, young peo- ple seem reluctant to consider voca- tional careers, some say, because of misperceptions about skilled trades. "Young adults often see vocational jobs as a grueling line of work offering no career advancement or financial and job security," the Post reported. "The reality is many workers in the skilled trades earn average or above average wages." The resulting shortage strains mul- tiple industries that rely on these pro- fessionals to stabilize labor supply, and keep costs at a manageable level, especially in the pipeline industry. The Manpower Group, an interna- tional staffing agency, told the Post that skilled trade jobs are the hardest of all to fill. Not to say, "I told you so," but Forbes saw this coming back in 2013. It reported on a looming skilled trades shortage, observing that welders, elec- tricians and machinists were already becoming tough to hire. "If these skilled trades workers are difficult to Labor Reserves Teamsters Address Pipeline Labor Shortage Through Tribal Union Workforce Partnerships TOP: Native American cultural resource monitors survey the jobsite during the construction of a pipeline project in South Dakota. Tribal partnerships to put indigenous monitors on pipeline sites is a win-win, as it employs tribal members and allows them to have eyes on the ground to recognize potential discoveries that are invisible to non-tribal members. The Teamsters union is partnering with Native American communities to provide life-long career pathways in the pipeline industry. OPPOSITE PAGE: Employing Native Americans as cultural resource monitors on pipeline jobsites is one opportunity for the pipeine industry to partner with tribal communities. Pictured here (from left): Tony Provost, tribal monitor, Omaha Tribe; Lou Thompson, CEO, Tribal Energy Resource; and David Williams, tribal monitor, Kickapoo Tribe.

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