GNO, Inc. and Foundation for Louisiana Release Coastal Workforce Report


Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) and Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) released An Analysis of Coastal Restoration Workforce Assets, Challenges, and Opportunities in South Louisiana. Recognizing the significant opportunity of planned coastal restoration projects on the communities, environments, and economies of South Louisiana, FFL commissioned GNO, Inc. to produce an analysis of Louisiana’s coastal restoration industry and workforce that could inform public officials, community partners and potential funders about the workforce assets, opportunities, and challenges relevant to implementing the Coastal Master Plan.

“The need for coastal restoration is urgent and the resources needed to implement are in hand, but our region remains at risk if a skilled workforce is not available to staff these projects,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Potentially representing Louisiana’s largest public works project in history, and providing a model for resilience for the country, coastal restoration is a major economic opportunity that cannot be overlooked.”

“This report confirms that coastal restoration, with its promise to benefit Louisiana’s people, represents an unprecedented opportunity for us all,” said Flozell Daniels, Jr., President and CEO of Foundation for Louisiana. “Together, we can effectively use this information to restore and protect Louisiana communities, build sustainable careers, and expand equitable economic opportunities for the coastal region and the entire state. Finally, we are grateful to The Walton Family Foundation for its investment and partnership in this important work.”

“Coastal sustainability, jobs and communities are very interdependent,” said CPRA Chair Jerome Zeringue. “You can’t have a working coast like ours without a qualified work force at hand. But that means having sustainable communities for those workers and their families–and we won’t have that if we don’t put people to work on the very projects that can sustain our coast. We applaud GNO, Inc. and the Foundation for Louisiana for their efforts to advance our capabilities in all of these areas.”

The research, conducted across South Louisiana, focuses on workforce assets, challenges, and opportunities in the state in the context of implementing the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, for which the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is responsible.

Key findings include:

  • While many local firms are participating in restoration work, whether as a prime or sub-contractor, marketing, technical, and workforce assistance may expand the opportunities local firms have to participate in contracts from CPRA, which will create local jobs and wealth.
  • Often, sub-contractors are the firms hiring locally, rather than prime contractors. However, CPRA does not currently have in place mechanisms to track sub-contractors. Having more detailed information about subcontractors would help workforce development organizations and job seekers in their efforts to reach employers.
  • Since 2005, working-age residents have retreated from coastal regions. Consequently there are fewer working–age adults in the areas where much of the construction of coastal restoration projects occurs. In order to address this issue, best practice research, regional solutions that address transportation constraints and marketing will all be needed.
  • The coastal restoration workforce includes a range of occupations and a diversity of skills, education, and/or training requirements. Some occupations require post-graduate degrees, but many of this industry’s professions require less than a four-year degree but more than a high school diploma, and have linked career paths. Many job seekers and workforce training providers are unaware of these employment opportunities in coastal restoration. Development of career maps, education about career opportunities in this field, and programs at two- and four-year colleges will close this gap.
  • Coastal restoration jobs often require the same skill sets as other in-demand industries, including the energy and petrochemical industries, making demand for skilled crafts workers even greater. A source for this pool of labor could come from the more than 15,000 individuals released each year from local and state prisons and whose criminal backgrounds prohibit employment in much of the energy/petchem industry. A coordinated effort to catalog re-entry programs, marketing, outreach, and support of these programs are all needed.
  • Because workforce is so in demand in these industries, educational institutions are having difficulty retaining faculty, who are often hired away by industry at more competitive wages. Program development, business coalitions committed to supporting educational institutions, and a systems coordinator at the Louisiana Technical and Community College System are all needed.
  • Many of these skills simply require industry-based certifications, but these institutions are often not eligible for financial aid. Policy changes and best practice research are needed.

These recommendations have been developed to inform government, education, economic development, workforce development and private philanthropy’s programs and policies. GNO, Inc. and Foundation for Louisiana will advocate for their adoption. Furthermore, GNO, Inc. will incorporate certain recommendations into its ongoing workforce development program—GNOworks, through which the new UNO Coastal Engineering and Sciences (CEAS) Certificate Program was conceived.

Read the full report here.

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About Greater New Orleans, Inc.

GNO, Inc. is the regional economic development organization, serving to coordinate, consolidate, and catalyze economic development activity. The GNO, Inc. Mission is to create jobs and wealth in the Greater New Orleans community. The GNO, Inc. Vision is for the Greater New Orleans region to fulfill its potential as one of the best places in the country to grow a company, and raise a family.

More information can be found at www.gnoinc.org.

About Foundation for Louisiana

The mission of Foundation for Louisiana is to invest in people and practices that work to reduce vulnerability and build stronger, more sustainable communities statewide.

More information can be found at www.foundationforlouisiana.org.

FFL Media Contact:  Lucinda Flowers
225-772-1510
lflowers@foundationforlouisiana.org