Reimagining Workforce Development is Key to Regional Growth

September 18, 2014

DRA, Lieutenant Governor Dardenne, Louisiana Economic Leaders: Reimagining Workforce Development is Key to Regional Growth

THIBODAUX, La. – Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill today announced new efforts to re-imagine workforce development initiatives across the region, calling it a necessity focus on strategies for Louisiana to train workers and connect the hardworking people of the Delta to the jobs of the future. With an anticipated need of more than 86,000 new craft workers by 2016, the DRA and its regional partners are boosting efforts to enhancing regional workforce development systems in Louisiana and other Delta states.

“Just like the flow of the Mississippi River, the Delta economy is constantly changing – and our workforce training needs to change with it. Working with our state, regional, and community partners, we are committed to rethinking how we train our workers and connect our people to jobs of the future,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill. “This initiative is aimed at strengthening our workforce, encouraging lifelong learning, and increasing the standard of living in the region.”

The workforce summit comes just weeks after the Delta Regional Authority and its Board of Governors announced a $1.7 million investment into strengthening and expanding the area’s training programs. The day-long summit featured state and regional leadership from numerous sectors including Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, Former Louisiana Economic Development Commissioner and CEO of Committee of 100 Michael Olivier, Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Dr. Monty Sullivan, Louisiana Association of Business & Industry Vice President Brigitte Nieland, State Senator Norby Chabert, and State Representative John Bel Edwards, as well as economic, education and industry partners.

“As a regional economic developer for the Bayou Region, I am in and out of industry all day. The first two questions I ask are ‘What is the biggest thing impeding the growth of your company and your industry?’ and ‘What can SLEC do to help?’ Every time the answer to these questions is Workforce,” said Vic Lafont, President and CEO of the South Louisiana Economic Council, a local strategic partner for the Louisiana summit.

The $1.7 million funding program—known as the Reimagining the Delta Workforce Development Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Fund—will provide competitive funding to local communities and partnerships to train local leadership in planning and implementing a workforce development system that supports a pipeline of workers trained with skills to acquire jobs available in their community and attract new jobs to the Delta region.

The series of summits follows the release of the 2013 Report on the Future of the South: Re-imagining Workforce Development. The comprehensive report acknowledges that the recession has amplified challenges in the Delta and identifies an increasingly competitive talent pool, changing life-cycles, and the rapid pace of the global marketplace as the driving forces behind the shifting workplace environment. 

“There has been a major change in the composition of the workforce in the Delta in recent years,” said Ted Abernathy, author of the report Re-imagining Workforce Development and managing partner of Economic Leadership LLC. “The distribution of jobs today is very different than a just a few years ago, and it is not just jobs that are changing but the skills required to do them as well.”

The report outlines three key recommendations: reimagining readiness, reengaging adult learners and disconnected youth, and realigning relationships and resources. Additional recommendations identified in the report include strengthening the connection between education and job skills, advancing online learning opportunities and certificate programs, and creating a culture of lifelong learning from early childhood through adulthood. 

The Louisiana Workforce Development Summit is part of a series of Reimagining the Delta Workforce summits that are occurring July through October in the eight-state Delta region.  The DRA’s Reimagining the Delta Workforce Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Fund is now accepting applications via funding.dra.gov. For more information and the Notice of Funding Availability for the funding program, click here. 

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About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta. Through twelve cycles of federal investment, the Authority is helping to create and retain more than 41,000 jobs and trained nearly 17,000 individuals, while leveraging $2.7 billion in other public and private investment.

Contact: Spencer Lucker
slucker@dra.gov, 202-434-4842