Monday, October 26, 2009

Burgh Energy Report: Pittsburgh People Renaissance

One of the more fascinating job descriptions I've ever seen is currently featured at Dewey & Kaye:

The Regional Opportunity Center (ROC) is seeking to attract, retain and elevate diverse workers in the Pittsburgh region. The ROC has implemented a PILOT program with regional energy sector companies including, but not limited to, EQT Corporation (EQT) Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC (Westinghouse) and Emerson Electric Co. (Emerson) with the goal of collaborating to attract, retain and elevate a significant number of diverse workers to the three particular companies. The organization is seeking an experienced professional to plan, direct, and coordinate the activities of the energy companies participating in the PILOT to ensure that the overall program objectives are met.

The Regional Opportunity Center, an independent 501c3 nonprofit entity was developed to address this gap in our region, and work closely with the corporate, government, nonprofit, education, labor and foundation communities to ensure success. The themes that define our work are Grow (our inclusivity), Attract, Retain and Elevate (a talented workforce), and Promote (the culture here in SW PA).

The vision of the Regional Opportunity Center is to have the Pittsburgh Region be recognized as one of the most livable regions for a talented workforce of all backgrounds, and among the leading regions in elevating, retaining and attracting a diverse workforce. The ROC’s mission is to spearhead the next Pittsburgh renaissance - a "People Renaissance" that:
1. Embraces inclusion;
2. Ensures our region's growth by elevating, retaining and attracting a diverse workforce; and
3. Promotes Pittsburgh - nationally and internationally - as a diverse, welcoming region of opportunities.

Obviously, that is a tall order. The person who lands this position will have to understand the geopolitics of talent and energy. But you won't find that listed among the skill requirements. In my opinion, that's a gross oversight. The region is embarking on a campaign like that of resource rich Alberta, which is the main reason I'm referencing the employment posting. The demand for skilled labor is enormous and I'd bet there is considerable panic about the looming shortage. I doubt that even the most preferred candidates will be up for the task.

According to an interview with Canada’s environment minister, Jim Prentice, published Friday in The Globe and Mail, Canada will be heading to Copenhagen looking for less aggressive emission targets than Europe or Japan because of its faster-growing population and energy-intensive industrial structure.

With climate-change bills working through Congress, environmentalists have pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to block the construction of large cross-border pipelines meant to increase exports of crude from bitumen refining operations.

Canadian oil executives are concerned that new American fuel standards will work against bitumen crude, which requires vast amounts of natural gas to refine.

But Ms. Raisinghani said it is “premature to comment” about the impact of such policies on Canadian crude exports. “We will follow the progress of U.S. legislative and regulatory actions with interest.”

Mr. Prentice indicated last week that the Canadian government does not intend to reveal its negotiating position at Copenhagen before the American government does. He also told The Globe that hopes for a successful treaty in December seemed to be fading.

These geopolitical squabbles will be a major force in the kind of talent demand coming from energy companies. Global pressure against bitumen crude might soften the demand for natural gas and help keep prices low, keeping a lid on the Marcellus boom. But that isn't the biggest concern.

The two countries will end up in a clean tech race. Given the proximity, it isn't a stretch to see cross-border talent poaching. Alberta has aggressively courted frustrated H-1B visa holders tired of waiting for a US Green Card. I envision a trade war over human capital. That's bad news for Pittsburgh's Diversity in Energy Program Manager. The SW PA region isn't accustomed to attracting lots of migrants. This inflow infrastructure must be built from scratch. After all, we aren't that far removed from the days of Border Guard Bob, the prevailing mindset today.

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