By Sam Karlin
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has received $1.27 million in funding for apprenticeship initiatives, part of which will help fund a tech workforce program being pursued by the Research Park Corp. to bolster the sector’s employment pool in the Capital Region.
The funding, from the U.S. Department of Labor, was awarded to the LWC’s Apprenticeship Division and will be used for a range of labor programs.
Nexus LA, which will sponsor the tech workforce program called Apprenti, is getting $130,000 of the grant money, said Joseph Hollins, state apprenticeship director at LWC. Another $175,000 will go to new apprenticeship programs, $175,000 will pay for the registration of existing apprenticeship programs, $150,000 will pay for upgrades to existing programs and $55,000 will go to Baton Rouge-area high schools. The rest will go to the apprenticeship division of the LWC for salaries and expenses like travel.
The Research Park Corp. last month voted to become an official affiliate of the Apprenti program, which was launched in Washington in 2015 and has since been expanded to several other states.
Officials say Apprenti will be another tool — along with bolstering higher education programs — to build up Louisiana’s tech workforce, especially as companies like DXC Technology in New Orleans and IBM in Baton Rouge seek thousands of qualified workers.
“There’s also a lot of mid-sized tech employers in Baton Rouge that haven’t been able to find the tech talent they need,” Hollins said. “This is a strategy of how can we begin to train the workforce in Louisiana to get workers to stay here.”
The Apprenti program is projected to generate at least 30 apprentices in the grant performance period, LWC said, and correlates with the state’s efforts to expand employment and training opportunities in the IT field through partnerships with companies like DXC and CGI, which recently announced a doubling of its workforce in Lafayette.