Workforce Wednesday: Creating Experiential Learning Opportunities

A region’s economic health largely depends on its skilled workforce pipeline. Each year, BRAC releases a Workforce Report that analyzes projected high-wage jobs and the number of people in the Capital Region currently being trained for those roles. The 2018 Workforce Report was released in early November and offered recommendations to continue pushing for progress in 2019. To expand on those recommendations, BRAC created the Workforce Wednesday limited blog series. For the next month on Wednesdays, a new post will be published on the BRAC Blog providing greater insight into recommendations and providing guidance to continue moving the needle on workforce development. 

Area businesses should partner with local education and workforce providers in the region on developing curricula and customized workforce solutions to ensure a robust and well-trained workforce pipeline. 

Not only is it important for students’ curricula to match workforce needs, but it is also important for students to engage in experiential learning opportunities via internships, apprenticeships, etc. Two such education and business partnerships in the Capital Region are a public-private Tech Apprenticeship Program and BRAC’s regional internship campaign. 

Tech Apprenticeship Program

The Capital Region’s technology industry has identified two challenges to building the tech talent pipeline in Baton Rouge:  

  • The high mobility of the region’s relevant talent to bigger tech hubs, and 
  • The lack of alignment of curricula from area education providers to the industry’s high-demand skills 

To remedy challenges and bolster a direct business-specific pipeline of tech professionals in the region, BRAC, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the Louisiana Workforce Commission, and Nexus Louisiana are partnering with eight Capital Region companies to pilot the Tech Apprenticeship Program.  

The pilot, launched in August, will use the Apprenti model, a technology workforce trainer for national tech giants like Microsoft. Two career pathways are available through the program: Network Security and Software Development. Through a combination of classroom training provided by local community colleges and on-the-job training, apprentices will earn industry-based credentials, receive training to meet the specific needs of their sponsoring company, earn a salary throughout their training, and have employment waiting for them upon completion.  

This locally-driven, hands-on model of students taking what they’ve learned in the classroom and applying it to real-world work (thus connecting them to their future employers) remains vital for the advancement of our tech pipeline in Baton Rouge.  

BRAC’s InternBR Program

To address young professional (YP) recruitment and retention issues facing the Capital Region, BRAC focuses efforts on increasing the quality and quantity of internships in the Baton Rouge Area. BRAC’s InternBR programs and resources include employer training about internships and a professional development program for interns. 

Earlier this year, BRAC partnered with the career services teams from Louisiana State University, Southern University and Baton Rouge Community College to provide workshops for local employers looking to start or expand an internship program. Through four workshops in 2018, 82 employers from 50 different Baton Rouge Area companies were trained to create or expand meaningful internship programs for area students.  

InternBR is an annual professional development program designed to teach interns the leadership and communication skills needed for success in their current internships and as they prepare for full-time employment after graduation. Since the program launched in 2016, InternBR has trained 77 interns representing 20 colleges and 33 Baton Rouge Area companies. Professional development training topics include thinking and behavioral preferences, how to introduce yourself, email etiquette and best practices for networking, resume writing and interviewing. Additionally, the interns further engage with the community through philanthropic and social activities. The goal of the program is to better prepare them for full-time employment and to introduce them to all that Baton Rouge has to offer so they will launch a successful career in the Capital Region.  

Apprenticeships and internship programs that not only educate, but also create ties to employers and communities, are the types of innovative solutions necessary in industries where competition for talent is increasing.

Melissa Thompson

Melissa leads all aspects of BRAC’s talent development program, including talent attraction and orientation. She works in partnership with employers to provide services that complement existing human resources recruitment practices.

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