Louisiana’s two-year colleges are transforming their campuses to meet the demands of the next-generation workforce. Since 2007, the State of Louisiana has invested $500 million to expand and improve the 13 institutions of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS). Demand for LCTCS courses has soared, even quadrupling on some campuses, as more students seek degrees and certifications that yield sustainable, quality careers.
LCTCS is collaborating with industry to ensure that new facilities and programs support the state’s job growth forecast, since a large percentage of future jobs will be filled by community and technical college graduates. Leaders from Louisiana Economic Development, LCTCS and the Louisiana Workforce Commission are tracking high-demand jobs and helping schools align their programs with employer needs.
The blueprint for Louisiana’s investment is the Facilities with a Purpose plan that calls for 876,000 square feet of new or improved community and technical college space. Crowded classrooms are being replaced by contemporary, flexible labs and lecture halls that prepare students for a variety of careers.
For example, a $17 million investment at South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) in Lafayette is supporting a new allied health building. It will enable SLCC to offer a two-year registered nurse degree program and other sought-after healthcare certifications.
SLCC has enhanced programs in other high-demand fields, including energy, a longtime economic driver in South Louisiana. The college has expanded curricula for oil and gas industry operators, welders and machinists, and is the only two-year institution in the state to offer an oil production safety degree.
SLCC’s new aviation programs include a Federal Aviation Administration-approved certification in aircraft coatings. The college is working with Bell Helicopter’s new assembly facility in Lafayette on an apprenticeship program that would produce more mechanics to work on the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopters.
Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in Northwest Louisiana experienced an 83 percent enrollment increase from 2009 to 2013 as more Shreveport-Bossier City residents opted for two-year degrees in a growing economy. Demand has grown at least 70 percent for BPCC graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, with companies relying on the college for more workers trained in cybersecurity, nursing, allied health and related disciplines. A $21 million investment at BPCC has established a state-of-the-art STEM center.
At Delgado Community College in New Orleans, a $35 million investment is supporting the first phase of a 107,700-square-foot Nursing and Allied Health Campus. The campus will be positioned in the New Orleans BioDistrict near hospitals and the Tulane University and LSU medical schools, and will serve 6,000 students.
Additionally, an investment of $10 million at Delgado is producing a new Hospitality and Culinary Center, a hub for training the region’s high-demand hospitality industry workforce. Students may obtain degrees in the culinary arts, and restaurant and hotel management.
Expansion projects also are underway on four campuses of Louisiana Delta Community College to support manufacturing job growth in Northeast Louisiana. An $8 million investment on the main campus in Monroe will produce a 30,000-square-foot Advanced Technology Center to expand college programs in electronics, pneumatics and other high-skill, high-wage programs. The center will serve more than 3,500 students.