New TrainND facility now open in Williston
WILLISTON, N.D. - A new $7.5 million workforce training facility in Williston is complete, filling a demand for oil industry training that remains strong despite a slowdown in drilling.
WILLISTON, N.D. – A new $7.5 million workforce training facility in Williston is complete, filling a demand for oil industry training that remains strong despite a slowdown in drilling.
The new building for TrainND’s Northwest Center at Williston State College brings the classroom training together with its petroleum simulators and field program, which features a workover rig and other oilfield equipment.
“We don’t want our instruction to just be classroom stuff,” said CEO Deanette Piesek. “We really think it’s so important because there’s so many people coming to Williston that have never been in the oilfield that they actually get to see some of the equipment.”
The workforce training program has seen a drop in participants along with the decline in oil activity, but it hasn’t been as significant as some had projected, Piesek said.
For the 2014-15 school year, TrainND in Williston provided training to more than 320 businesses and 14,000 participants, including some who took more than one training course.
That represented a drop in enrollment of about 2,000 people from a year ago, but enrollment was higher than in 2012-13, Piesek said.
Many companies in northwest North Dakota are trying to keep their good employees during the downturn and are using the slow time as an opportunity to take refresher courses or update safety certifications, Piesek said.
“Instead of having them sitting around, they’re upgrading their training,” she said.
Nearly three-fourths of the workforce training the Williston program provides is for the oil and gas industry. The next largest programs are transportation and health care fields.
With the new 19,740-square-foot training and educational center, TrainND will have more space to diversify and expand its programs, Piesek said.
Andy Reeves, who teaches several safety courses for the oil industry, said the new facility will help the program better accommodate companies that are starting to request more specialized training courses.
Piesek said she’s excited that TrainND is still getting requests to train new oil industry hires. Halliburton requested two classes for new hires this summer and is scheduling a few more in the coming months, Piesek said.
“It’s a strong sign when you see companies hiring again,” Piesek said.
TrainND plans to begin offering classes at the new facility on Aug. 17.
The oil industry donated $1 million toward the building. Other funding sources included $750,000 from the city of Williston’s STAR Fund and a $2.5 million loan from the Bank of North Dakota.