Community Colleges Help Economy

Friday, April 3, 2009 - 12:42pm

Unemployment figures throughout the nation are up and are people standing in line for hours hoping to land a job.

While Louisiana isn't seeing a significant increase, with this economy, there is a chance that we could.

So what do we do to keep people working and provide job security? Get them educated and fast.

Phyllis Dupuis, Regional Director for Louisiana Technical College System Region 4 says, “We need to be sure our workers are trained and retrained as they are laid off or their jobs evolve. Very frequently that is the case."

That was the purpose of this Thursday’s meeting with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System along with South Louisiana Community College and Louisiana Technical College Region discuss the workforce and economy.

Joe May, President of Louisiana college systems says, “That is the biggest need today, for those with one or two years beyond high school....that's the bulk of the jobs we see right now for the Lafayette region and the state."

May said once the economy picks up again employers will be looking for people with some type of education.

Unfortunately, in Louisiana one in every five adults have not finished high school

Not only that—55 percent of all new jobs will require 1-2 years education.

But yet only 8 percent of high school students are attending community or technical colleges to obtain this education.

“People without educational skills are really not able to compete in the workforce. that puts us at an economic a disadvantage compared to neighboring states,” May said.

One way community and technical colleges are trying to educate, is by starting at an early age.

Jan Brobst, Chancellor of South Louisiana Community College said, "What we're finding is that we have to start younger and younger and help them understand what it means to think about a career. It is more than coming up with a name or hearing about a profession. We want them to really understand what it means to work in those environments."

While enrollment since 2004 is up significantly, officials say we still have a ways to go.