Workforce Wednesday: Workforce Training Initiatives

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.

Workforce stakeholders across the Capital Region are operating excellent programs to ensure strong workforce pipelines are maintained. These programs range from credential coursework and small business programs for high school students to state workforce training initiatives used to incentivize business relocation, expansion or retention.

A few such programs include the following:

Jump Start Summers

Since the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) implemented Jump Start, its overhaul of the state’s career and technical education diploma, thousands of students across Louisiana have been credentialed and prepared for careers in high-demand industries. In 2017, LDE piloted Jump Start Summers, a program providing high school students the opportunity to earn industry-based credentials (IBCs), gain vital soft skill training, and earn academic credits, all while receiving a summer wage. Ascension Parish participated in the pilot and credentialed students in NCCER Core and NCCER Electrical 1, two credentials that correlate to projected high-demand occupations. Livingston and Ascension Parish Schools hosted the program in 2018 as well. Holistic workforce programming like this highly engages young people in pursuit of targeted workforce credentials, addressing projected shortfalls in high-wage occupations.

Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge

Through a partnership with LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business, BRAC, and the Louisiana Business and Technology Center at LSU Innovation Park, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) teaches high-achieving Baton Rouge Area high school students the necessary knowledge and skills to become successful entrepreneurs. With small businesses employing over 88 percent of the Capital Region workforce, encouraging small business creation and development is crucial to continued economic success in the region. The 30-week intensive program, taught by LSU professors, teaches students to generate innovative business ideas and plans, pitch investors and launch businesses. The first YEA Baton Rouge cohort began in Fall 2018.

IBM’s P-TECH Model

Recently, tech companies have taken a more proactive role in creating a talent pipeline that ensures prospective employees are prepared to enter the workforce. One such program is IBM’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), which will be hosted at East Baton Rouge’s Tara High School. Participating students will earn their high school diploma, as well as an associate’s degree in Applied Science from Baton Rouge Community College. The “grade 9-14” program incorporates an additional two years of coursework after high school that will focus on engineering and computer science, and includes mentoring from IBM staff and internships at IBM. Graduates of the program will have earned a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and a guaranteed interview for a job at IBM.

DOW Process Technology Pathway

DOW Chemical redesigned its existing STEM Academy Process Technology Pathway (PTEC) in two West Baton Rouge high schools, one in Brusly and one in Port Allen, to reflect IBM’s P-TECH model. The programs will continue preparing students for careers in manufacturing, teaching skills for refinery, chemical and other-industry-related operators, while integrating the “grade 9-14″ format of the P-TECH model. In addition to core classes, the curriculum includes electives in process technology, plant safety, and requires dual enrollment from River Parishes Community College for completion. The program will include mentoring, internships and a commitment from DOW to interview program completers for jobs.


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. Learn more about the Apprenti model in last week’s Workforce Wednesday post.

Ethan Melancon

As the policy and research project manager, Ethan is the staff lead for education and workforce development focusing on cultivating the Capital Region’s talent through STEM learning and aligning workforce development systems to meet business needs.

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