MONROE – The U.S. Chamber reports that 11.3 million jobs are available in America this month. As the COVID pandemic releases its grip, companies across the country are scrambling to fill vacant positions. With so many new or re-positioned employees, the demand for workforce training is growing at a rapid pace.
The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 2.8% of employed people quit their jobs while the hiring rate for available jobs hovered at 4.3%. Even though recent months have shown improvements, the labor force participation rate dropped a whole percentage point since January 2020 to 62.3%.
The unemployment and hiring rates are particularly important to community colleges because worker shortages impact business and industry. One of the primary missions of Louisiana’s Community and Technical colleges is to be ready to train new employees and upskill incumbent employees. The mission includes training people who want upward mobility or attain skills that make them employable at a more desirable living wage.
To address the training and worker shortages of businesses in north Louisiana, Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), Louisiana Delta Community College (LDCC), and Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College (NLTCC) have collaborated to form The Workforce Training Alliance (WTA).
The WTA will address business and industry training needs along the I-20 corridor from Texas to Mississippi. The alliance was created from a realization that these three colleges could offer a broader range of services consistently if they formed and leveraged the unique strengths that each institution brings to the mix. The WTA will be a one-stop shop to facilitate training in the region.
While each college will serve its community, the WTA will facilitate communications and be the answer to any business or industry questions that call for training solutions.
“This is certainly a step forward,” said Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr., Chancellor of BPCC, “We believe this to be the largest collaboration of this kind in the state and will give us an edge in attracting, training, and retaining a skilled workforce.”
Each college has a workforce unit that provides short-term training. This alliance will not jeopardize the existing relationships between colleges and their partner industries; instead, the WTA will be an additional resource to ensure long-term success and collaboration. Companies with contracts, agreements, or relationships with their college will continue working with them.
“We have many great partners, and that will not change,” explains Dr. Randy Esters, Chancellor of LDCC. “We intend to continue the momentum and forward progress we have made in the last few years and make it better through collaborating and having access to more training resources and expertise.”
The newly hired executive director, Kevin Cuppia, began July 11th and will start to finalize the plans for the formal launch of the WTA. Cuppia brings over 20 years of private industry human resources leadership, where he was tasked with retraining existing workforce(s) to modernize and adapt to business expectations. He and his wife, Holley, are excited to be back in Louisiana and look forward to helping the North Louisiana community prosper and move forward.
“There are still a lot of details to be worked out,” commented Earl Meador, Chancellor of NLTCC. “The biggest part of this has been to form a true partnership solely focused on the needs of North Louisiana’s economic progress and put more of our citizens to work through quality training.”
Businesses and industries who want customized training may continue to work through their partner college or can reach Kevin Cuppia by phone at 318-732-7928.