Community partners from Lake Charles to Lafayette are working together to address workforce needs in south Louisiana following job reductions by energy, construction and manufacturing companies in the region. The latest effort in that collaboration is AcadianaOpportunity.com.
AcadianaOpportunity.com is an online portal connecting people with training opportunities and new jobs. The site is a collaborative effort between Louisiana Economic Development, Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA), One Acadiana, Louisiana Workforce Commission along with the two Workforce Development Boards in the region, Louisiana Job Connection, and South Louisiana Community College.
“There are numerous opportunities along the I-10 corridor from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge for displaced energy, construction and manufacturing workers and for our businesses,” says Gregg Gothreaux, President and CEO of LEDA. “The Acadiana Workforce Opportunities Initiative is another illustration of the collaborative nature of our community. Our organizations will continue to identify companies who are actively hiring and connect them with our displaced workers.”
“At the same time One Acadiana is recruiting new companies to diversify our regional economy, we’re also focused on protecting our base of companies already here and the workers who provide the backbone of our economy,” says Jason El Koubi, One Acadiana President and CEO. “That’s why we’re working with partners in Acadiana and in neighboring regions to help our displaced oil and gas workers find employment. AcadianaOpportunity.com is a product of these collaborative efforts.”
Workers who have been recently laid off may be eligible for grant funds to pay for training and certification classes. This website provides initial eligibility screening to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Users will learn about the job opportunities outside the oil and gas industry and get instructions on applying for unemployment benefits.
Gerald Bowers, a client of the Lafayette Workforce Development Board, was eligible to receive full tuition assistance through the Lafayette Business and Career Solutions Center. Bowers completed a seven-week Commercial Vehicle Operator program at SLCC and is now employed as a truck driver with Prime, Inc.
Bowers says, “I was well prepared for my job and my instructor taught me so much more than how to drive a truck.”
AcadianaOpportunity.com also links people to SLCC, where the training and certification classes will be taught. Visitors to the site should complete the college’s contact form online for more opportunities available through SLCC.
“SLCC has been a leading contributor to the partnership with LEDA, LED FastStart, One Acadiana, LWC, and WDBs 40 and 41 to assist the men and women throughout Acadiana who have been laid off due to the oil and gas downturn,” says Dr. Willie E. Smith, SLCC Vice Chancellor for Economic & Workforce Development. “This unique partnership will allow SLCC to play a pivotal role training our citizens for high-demand and high-wage jobs. Our short-term training programs are great options for those job seekers who need training for jobs available today, and we can get individuals into careers in as little as seven weeks.”
Visitors to the site can also access Louisiana Job Connection. This innovative site, designed by Louisiana Economic Development, matches users with available jobs based on their skills and experience. After posting their resume for free, job seekers will start receiving matches. As new jobs are posted, the site will send matches directly to the job seeker, eliminating the need for constant searching.
“LED FastStart and LouisianaJobConnection.com represent our most robust programs for matching job seekers with Louisiana employers,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “While we’re proud to offer these successful workforce solutions statewide, we’re deeply committed to partnering with our allies in regions of our state that have been hardest hit by the downturn in the oil and gas sector. In addition to AcadianaOpportunity.com, we’ll be rolling out a similar initiative soon in the Houma-Thibodaux area and we’ll be working in the Bayou and Acadiana regions to become a much stronger force for connecting displaced workers with new job opportunities.”
Job seekers also have access to the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s online jobs and training portal called HiRE, or Helping Individuals Reach Employment. HiRE is one of the nation’s most advanced workforce development systems, where job seekers can gain access to training opportunities to advance their skill sets and apply for jobs that match their qualifications, interests and salary requirements.
For those without access to a computer or the Internet, the Louisiana Workforce Commission has Business and Career Solutions Centers in almost every parish of the state to offer these services with hands-on assistance from experienced professionals. These local offices offer résumé building assistance, interview tips, job counseling, skills assessments and much more.
In addition to serving job seekers, the LWC offers essential services and training opportunities to Louisiana employers who wish to invest in their employees’ futures. The Incumbent Worker Training Program, funded by unemployment insurance tax contributions, brings together the LWC, business and industry leaders and training providers to advance the employees’ existing skills to promote employee productivity and company growth.
“The Louisiana Workforce Commission is committed to ensuring that recently dislocated workers have every tool easily accessible to them either online or in person so that they can quickly find a family-sustaining career,” said Executive Director Ava Dejoie. “Whether you need help building a résumé, finding job opportunities or gaining access to funding to complete training courses, the LWC and our partners are here to help put people to work.”
The launch of AcadianaOpportunity.com follows the successful Industrial Trades Career Fair, which was held in early March. Thirty-six companies from across south Louisiana participated in the event, which attracted 1,800 job seekers. Company representatives reported making 72 job offers at the event with 266 additional interviews scheduled. More than 80% of company representatives said it was likely they would hire a job seeker who attended the event, and 91% rated the job seekers they met as excellent or good. The majority of the job seekers at the event were from Lafayette Parish; and 78% of job seekers indicated they were currently unemployed with 10 or more years of work experience.
AcadianaOpportunity.com is live.