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How Louisiana Is Fueling the Workforce Pipeline of the Future

If access to highly skilled employees is critical to your business then Louisiana is the perfect place to grow.
How Louisiana Is Fueling the Workforce Pipeline of the Future
Image credit: LED
LED FastStart creates no-cost custom plans to recruit, screen and train a workforce for eligible firms in target industries.
By Louisiana Economic Development

One asset that every successful company needs is a highly skilled workforce. In Louisiana, training specialized employees for its regional businesses is a top priority.

State leaders there have a noteworthy strategy for workforce training, and they have made flexibility and innovation top priorities for programs like LED FastStart®, Louisiana’s top workforce training program for seven consecutive years.

LED FastStart creates no-cost custom plans to recruit, screen and train a workforce for eligible firms in target industries, such as advanced and traditional manufacturing, logistics, information technology, corporate offices and petrochemicals. Its customized training plans draw from an in-depth analysis of each company’s particular workforce needs, which can encompass workforce safety, regulatory standards, industry-specific benchmarks, and leadership development for upper-level managers.

“We deliver customized training based on whatever a company needs to succeed,” says Paul Helton, FastStart’s executive director. “One of the things that makes LED FastStart so successful is that it is designed to be flexible and responsive to specific training needs.”

Business Facilities magazine recently named LED FastStart the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training program, for the seventh year in a row.

“I was blown away with FastStart’s flexibility and their capability to customize,” says Tom Yura Sr., the senior vice president and general manager for BASF’s chemical facilities in Geismar, La., the company’s largest manufacturing site in North America with nearly 2,000 employees and 22 production units.

Louisiana’s approach to workforce development also cultivates meaningful partnerships between state government, private industry and higher education. In every case, regional workforce demand guides the construction and implementation of training programs and coursework.

In Baton Rouge, for instance, LED, IBM and Louisiana State University forged a private-public partnership to broaden the pipeline of software programmers for an 800-job IBM technology center. 

With $14 million in state funding, LSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is working to double the size of its computer science faculty and triple the number of annual computer science graduates over five years. The university is also working closely with IBM to add coursework that will equip students with the precise skills the company needs.

Growing IT hubs are replicating this university-government-industry model across Louisiana, including at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in partnership with CGI, and at Louisiana Tech University in partnership with CSRA.

Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever, Louisiana, is one of many higher education institutions that has a record of partnering with industry in training a skilled workforce.
Image credit: LED

Workforce training at Louisiana Community and Technical College System campuses likewise reflects regional needs as it prepares students for high-wage, high-demand job opportunities in their local communities.

For instance, the $22 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology at Bossier Parish Community College is providing a pipeline of skilled workers for Benteler Steel/Tube’s $975 million seamless steel tube mill and steel mini-mill, its first such facilities in the U.S.

With state and local funding, LED FastStart has equipped the Bossier training center with specialized machinery that mirrors Benteler’s actual production tooling. LED FastStart has a dedicated training staff at the center, where Benteler and additional industry experts collaborate to provide hands-on training.

In Southwest Louisiana, another state-funded facility—the $20 million Regional Training Center at SOWELA Technical Community College—is training workers for high-wage jobs at Sasol’s $11 billion ethane cracker complex. The primary focus of the facility is to provide industrial technology training to potential Sasol employees. The facility is meeting Sasol’s training needs, as well as the broader needs of manufacturers throughout the region.

Louisiana’s community and technical colleges are also developing intensive training programs to more effectively meet growing employer demand. Accelerated programs that lead to industry credentials in industrial construction, welding and other high-demand fields are part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System’s goal of doubling student enrollment from about 164,000 to 325,000 by 2020.

Through its innovative workforce development strategy and its multitude of successful partnerships, Louisiana is continuing to fuel the workforce pipeline of tomorrow. Read the full story here.

To find more information about relocating or expanding to Louisiana, visit

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