Workers in specialty crafts, health care and professional services sectors are in high demand this year, and the area must find a way to fill those positions in order to take advantage of the region’s current and unprecedented growth, according to a new report from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
“It’s important to understand where the new jobs are, as well as their requirements. Many of the new jobs coming online require an associate’s degree or less,” said Adam Knapp, president and chief executive officer of BRAC. “These are high-wage jobs in high-growth industries that represent tremendous professional opportunities for our citizens.”
The report’s goal is to focus conversation on regional training completion in demand industries, bring about change in the way employment metrics are tracked and develop a workforce to satisfy demand. The organization reports that in 2015, BRAC-assisted economic development projects announced 1,463 new jobs in the region. Earlier this year, the metro area surpassed an all-time high 400,000 total nonfarm jobs, representing 6,600 new jobs over the past 12 months.
Training and education institutions have expanded degree programs in an effort to meet demand for skilled crafts, which includes specialty trade contractors and construction; health care, in both outpatient facilities and hospitals; and professional services. The Center for Planning Excellence is set to release a companion report — Entering the Pipeline: Engaging Disconnected Workers in our Regional Economy — identifying barriers that prevent workers from training for the high-demand fields and how resources can be better used to engage the underserved.
“Collectively, the two reports shine a light on the current state of affairs of the regional workforce and offer specific recommendations to improve educational and employment opportunities to ensure that citizens are prepared to take advantage of economic opportunities,” Knapp said.