New Orleans Continues Embracing Workforce Development Trend

Oct 13, 2014

About 800 high school students will be heading to Delgado Community College later Monday to learn how they can get well-paying jobs without the traditional four-year degree. It’s the latest step in a growing trend of workforce development.

The students are attending a technical skills expo to see the training they’ll need to earn $70,000 a year. Sponsors include Chevron and the economic development association Greater New Orleans, Inc.

GNO, Inc. President Michael Hecht says the concept of designing education for specific jobs and industries is a growing trend nationally — especially in Louisiana — and needs private money.

“One of the most exciting trends that we’re seeing out here in Louisiana, particularly the greater New Orleans region, is the active engagement of the business community with institutions of higher education," Hecht said. "I think the business community has realized that if we want a demand-driven workforce system that is truly tailored to the needs of business, then business has to be intimately involved.” 

Delgado received a $2.5 million grant from the Labor Department for advanced manufacturing and energy sectors.

More money is also on hand for developing highly skilled professional education. The University of New Orleans is developing graduate certificates in coastal engineering and sciences.

Kenneth Sewell is UNO’s vice president of research and economic development. He says the trend now includes more careers outside the traditional energy jobs in Louisiana. Demand is increasing for software development, information technology and digital entertainment production.

“There’s just a broader realization in this state right now that the kind of workforce that the industries that are in Louisiana and coming to Louisiana need is not exactly synched up with the pipeline that our education system is currently providing,” Sewell said.

UNO is also partnering with the Port of New Orleans on maritime job development.