O&R Gas Operator Tech Training Grads Meet Potential Bosses

Thanks to O&R, 14 local people may have begun what could turn out to be new careers. 

Those people, all of whom were unemployed or under-employed, graduated Sept. 1 from a gas operator technician training course sponsored by O&R. The training was conducted at the New York State Laborers Union Local 17 in Newburgh and the Orange County Fire Training Center in New Hampton.

Joseph Tonkin, a Haverstraw resident and class member, was chosen by the class to represent it.

He said, “We really had some outstanding instructors who prepared us for the tests and prepared us for the field. By combining classroom instruction with hands-on training, they made a ton of information much easier to understand and retain. They never made us feel lost or uncomfortable learning a new skill set.”

As part of that graduation ceremony O&R also sponsored a job fair at the Orange County Fire Training Center in New Hampton.

The job fair is designed to introduce private natural gas pipeline construction companies to new graduates of the gas operator technician training course. These openings are not at O&R but with the many private construction industry contractors in the area. The introduction renews the labor pool for the private contractors and offers the opportunity for a job to the graduates.

O&R Gas Department’s Joe Mandara, one of the course’s managers, said, “These students all want to learn and they all want to work. They have proven during this course that they are smart, highly motivated and determined. We’ve taught them the skills they need to succeed. The rest is up to them.”

O&R is offering the program to broaden the labor pool of qualified natural gas pipeline technicians being sought after by private construction contractors for the many infrastructure rehabilitation and renewal projects under way or on the drawing board.

Each year, throughout the region, hundreds of thousands of feet of aging cast-iron and unprotected steel natural gas mains are replaced with high-tech plastic mains that are more durable and provide more reliable, safer service.

This training prepares students for skilled natural gas industry jobs that may require heavy manual labor, including digging. That work takes place outdoors in all weather and under other challenging conditions.

The training program for Gas Operator Technician covers these topics:

  • Pipe fitting, installation and inspection of pipes
  • Specialized welding techniques
  • Leak detection and gas meter regulation
  • Accident awareness and prevention
  • Workplace competencies, communication, teamwork skills, resume writing and interview skills
  • Northeast Gas Association operator qualification testing

The training program also includes the:

  • OSHA 10 General Safety Certification program which provides training for workers on the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of safety and health hazards in the workplace and
  • Dig Safely New York’s Certified Excavator training which covers the nine elements of effective underground facilities’ damage prevention.

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