Pittsburgh has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory to accelerate the growth of and access to energy jobs in the city and across the country.

The partnership would strengthen Pittsburgh’s Service to Opportunity (STO) program, which helps pair military veterans transitioning to the civilian labor force with jobs in the oil and gas sector. It would also help launch a pilot program for career training in the industry at four military bases across the country and lay the groundwork for a possible Energy Workforce Institute that would couple training and hiring through federal agencies, universities and the energy sector.

Oil and gas industry members are expected to help fund the initiative. STO is already funded in part by Chevron Corp. and its Appalachia Partnership initiative, a $20 million effort announced last October to address education and workforce development in 27 counties across Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia (see Shale Daily, Oct. 17, 2014).

The MOU came after Pittsburgh and federal officials, including DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, met in the city last week. The agreement also established a relationship to upgrade Pittsburgh’s aging electrical grid and natural gas infrastructure.

Moniz said the city is an ideal location to help create “the next generation energy workforce” and noted the growing energy sector there that has resulted from shale gas development.

According to STO, greater Pittsburgh is home to more than 1,000 energy and related manufacturing companies that represent 50,000 direct energy jobs and $19 billion in regional economic impact. The Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh has found that 10% of the city’s job openings are related to the energy sector.

A progress report on the partnership’s efforts is expected later in the year.