LA FastStart Ranked #1 in USA for 7th Year in a Row
It’s getting tougher to rank our Workforce Training Leaders since numerous states have joined the ranks of those who have made workforce development a top priority.
As usual, we’ve evaluated state workforce training incentives and recent projects secured with training commitments, giving extra credit to states that have upgraded their programs to augment or replace traditional tax credits with innovative initiatives that integrate their education resources with workforce training. The states that are ahead of the curve are inviting emerging industries to tailor curricula to 21st-century job skills requirements; support the development of STEM skills; offer dual-credit high school tech programs (and/or two free years at tech schools); or have created industry-specific state training academies and/or on-site training facilities for advanced manufacturing and other growth sectors.
We’ve been saying this for so many years it sounds like a broken record, but Louisiana’s FastStart program still is the gold standard for workforce training. Georgia, which has established six Centers of Innovation, moves into second place, edging out Alabama, home to world-class robotics, automotive and aerospace training facilities. Virginia, North Carolina (with its NCWorks initiative and Community College Customized Training Program) and Oklahoma (which has made a commitment to become the “STEM State”) join the top 10 in seventh, eighth and ninth place, respectively.
Louisiana’s FastStart program isn’t resting on its laurels. FastStarts’ C4 certification programs continue to expand and innovate. Up to 50 Louisiana high schools will offer Certification for Manufacturing (C4M) for the first time in the 2016-2017 school year. This year, the C4 Workforce Certification Program was expanded to include Certification for Industrial Maintenance (C4IM). This new Certification was developed in direct response to needs discovered through a partnership with Louisiana companies.
A new Operator Apprenticeship model is now offering an Associate’s Degree at Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges. These partnerships combine relevant curriculum in classroom settings with an apprenticeship at participating Louisiana companies.
Acadiana Opportunity, a collaborative effort among LED and five state and regional partners, helps dislocated workers connect with training opportunities to advance careers. More than 1,000 people have signed up and received funding for training classes, resume workshops and other employment assistance. Letters of intent to hire people are being sent by Louisiana companies to those who complete corresponding classes.
Louisiana’s Certified Workforce Developers (CWD) Program is designed as a collaborative venture between LCTCS (Louisiana’s Community and Technical College System) and LED and is delivered through LED FastStart. Participants include Workforce Development professionals from the technical and community colleges and local economic development organization team members. The program synchronizes training development and delivery to the LED FastStart standard, creating a common and unified experience for all companies in Louisiana. It allows companies to continue receiving training from local technical and community colleges after state incentives sunset, and fosters a networking environment to share resources and ideas across Louisiana campuses to support workforce development.
AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce, is Alabama’s primary workforce training program. AIDT opened another new training center, the Alabama Workforce Training Center, last spring. The new 56,000- square-foot facility, located in Birmingham, the state’s largest metro area, will allow for manufacturers, contractors and other industries to link up with AIDT along with public education and the two-year and even four-year colleges to equip students with specific skills needed to fill jobs.
Virginia has a longstanding reputation as a workforce pioneer thanks to programs such as the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. VJIP is focused on reducing a company’s workforce development costs. The program provides funding for economic development projects creating new jobs or undertaking a significant retraining initiative due to a change in product, process or technology.
Over the last five years, VJIP worked with 2,115 projects, supporting the creation or retraining of 52,245 jobs for Virginia citizens, making it one of the Commonwealth’s most widely-used workforce development programs.
The Oklahoma Works initiative brings all of the Sooner State’s workforce resources together, connecting employers, employees, job seekers and higher education to ensure businesses have access to a pipeline of talent. It offers key workforce training programs such as the Training for Industry Program (TIP), which helps companies create the quality workforce it needs to be successful, at little or no cost. TIP is delivered through Oklahoma’s system of 59 technology center campuses across the state providing services such as job analysis, training needs assessment, pre-employment training, pre-production training, post-production training, instructional materials and development, training supplies and more.