May 2017, Vol. 244, No. 5


“Who Will Do the Work?” – Ohio Pilot

By Mark Bridgers and Dan Campbell, Continuum Capital

Natural gas utilities are actively implementing programs to replace aging infrastructure and contractors are performing the majority of this work. The growth in spending cannot be sustained due to a shortage of experienced workers.

The Distribution Contractors Association (DCA) and its members have embarked on a strategy to attract more workers into the natural gas construction market through the Underground Construction Workforce Alliance (UCWA). The intention is to ensure that recruits build the basic skill sets to succeed and potential become the leaders in the industry.

Ohio ‘Hot Spot’ Pilot

Central Ohio was selected as the first area to pursue a local workforce development initiative. The five core concepts of a successful workforce development strategy include:

  1. Forecasting supply (labor and supervision availability) and demand (capital spending)
  2. Awareness and recruiting
  3. Training
  4. Placement
  5. Retention and career development

Initial strategy review of Ohio:

  • Training location: Central Ohio (100-mile radius of Columbus)
  • Forecasting: Confirm nature and type of workforce shortage
  • Impacts: Touches four large LDCs; at least five large contractors and 10 medium to small contractors
  • Impacts: Strong state government and local support for this type of initiative
  • Impacts: Touches four large LDCs; at least five large contractors and 10 medium to small contractors 


An Ohio Pilot Team (OPT) with member from Centuri/NPL, Digital Control, Ditch Witch, Duke/Piedmont Natural Gas, EN Engineering, labor (LIUNA), Michels Corporation, Mosaic, MVerge/Miller Pipeline, NiSource, Quanta/InfraSource, and Vermeer is leading implementation.

The OPT is building a detailed forecast of supply (labor and supervision availability) and demand (capital spending), interviewing central Ohio technical colleges for interest in participating in this effort, and starting the process of creating a curriculum recruit and training students for a natural gas and pipeline construction program.

How to Participate

  • Attend a UCWA strategy development meeting.
  • Join OPT or lead a pilot in another regional “hot spot” areas.
  • Provide personnel resources to speak about the topic of workforce development.
  • Fund the effort through the UCWA, a 501(c) 3 entity with tax advantage.

Authors: Mark Bridgers and Dan Campbell are consultants with Continuum Capital, which provides management consulting, training, and investment banking services to the worldwide energy, utility and infrastructure construction industry. They can be reached at (919) 345-0403 or


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