WASHINGTON — Today, LED Secretary Don Pierson joined President Donald Trump and two-dozen other officials in a strategic Workforce of Tomorrow conference at the White House. Key topics of the event, which anchored the Trump administration’s Workforce Week, included eliminating the skills gap of Americans, expanding apprenticeships, and recognizing the value of skills-focused education.
Louisiana has addressed each of those challenges and successfully integrated solutions throughout its workforce delivery system, which includes the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, or LCTCS; the Louisiana Workforce Commission; the Louisiana Department of Education; the Louisiana Board of Regents; and Louisiana Economic Development, or LED.
“In Louisiana, we are working to retain and expand our existing employers first, while also targeting the growth of new industry sectors in which our state stands the best chance for success,” Secretary Pierson said. “We have implemented custom workforce solutions for our expanding employers, we have collaborated across state agencies to create new pathways to careers, and we have done all of these things in close consultation and partnership with our private sector. Neither our public nor our private sector partners can afford to work in silos. We need to marshal our collective resources and implement recruitment and training strategies that support success in every region of our state. At the White House conference, I was proud to report that working with our state, regional and local allies, we are advancing workforce goals in a truly positive fashion in Louisiana.”
Thursday’s Workforce of Tomorrow sessions featured an hour-long working discussion with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Administrator Linda McMahon of the U.S. Small Business Administration and senior White House staff, including presidential adviser Ivanka Trump; Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for Intergovernmental & Technology Initiatives; and Andrew Bremberg, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council.
President Trump joined the federal and state officials for a second hour-long roundtable discussion in the White House Cabinet Room, with principal themes addressing the skills gap in the U.S. workforce and recognizing the value of a skills-focused education. The White House cited The Manufacturing Institute’s projection that 3.4 million manufacturing jobs are expected to become available over the next decade. Participants discussed the most effective programs that Congress and the states could invest in to narrow the skills gap for high-paying jobs, many of which do not require a four-year college degree but do require industry-specific training and skills.
At today’s event, President Trump signed an executive order directing the federal Labor Department to mobilize new programs that will help fill an estimated 6 million vacant jobs that employers cannot filled due to a lack of skilled workers. The Labor Department will draft rules for companies, industry groups and unions to create and certify their own apprentice programs, which will then be approved by the Labor Department.
Secretary Pierson shared LED’s successful partnership with LCTCS and the Louisiana Department of Education to roll out a fast-track Certification for Manufacturing credential that may be secured in as little as a semester on LCTCS campuses or as an industry-based credential earned in conjunction with a high school diploma at the secondary level. The higher education curriculum is known as C4M while the secondary equivalent delivered at high schools is part of the Department of Education’s Jump Start career pathway program. LED FastStart
, which is LED’s workforce solutions program for rapidly expanding employers, developed the manufacturing curriculum for use throughout Louisiana.
“We’re often asked about the key to our LED FastStart success,” Pierson said. “Without question, a prime contributor is that we are constantly industry-advised and industry-motivated to identify the best recruitment and training solutions for each company’s unique needs. Then, we deploy the most-efficient technology to push ourselves in a positive way to deliver the best training possible. Because we are industry-focused, we move not at the speed of traditional government but at the contemporary speed of business. We often push our clients faster than they push us, and that’s a hallmark of our LED FastStart program that they really love.”
Since 2008, LED FastStart has delivered over 388,000 hours of training for more than 25,700 individual employees at 175 companies in Louisiana. LED has augmented its workforce efforts by creating an online job-matching portal available free to job seekers anywhere and to employers posting Louisiana job openings. Since 2014, the LouisianaJobConnection.com
site has attracted 4,200 company registrants, 55,300 jobs posted, 79,000 registered job seekers and 3.9 million total matches between employers and qualified candidates.
This year, LED debuted a companion site, LouisianaBusinessConnection.com
, that matches small businesses seeking contract opportunities with large industrial operations in Louisiana. With an additional goal of helping disadvantaged business enterprises, such as smaller firms owned by women, minorities and veterans, Louisiana Business Connection has registered more than 600 small businesses and over 70 prime contractors in its first few months of operation.
Louisiana’s focus on workforce innovation has propelled LED FastStart into seven consecutive No. 1 rankings by Business Facilities magazine for best state workforce training program. The innovation is driving creative partnerships in the private sector as well. Louisiana Calling, a nonprofit governed by private sector leaders, draws on private donations to staff a toll-free call center housed in LCTCS, the community-technical college system. Callers and online visitors learn about high-value career opportunities – available now in Louisiana – that do not require a four-year degree.
“This is one of many workforce initiatives underway in Louisiana that are being guided by private sector leaders who get it,” Pierson said. “They understand that to maximize our talent, we need to create better pathways to careers, and they’re helping us blaze those trails every day.”
The White House Workforce of Tomorrow conference is the third major economic development event Pierson has participated in at the nation’s capital in the past year. In July 2016, he took part in the White House Forum on Economic Development hosted by the International Economic Development Council, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Select USA trade program and the National Economic Council. In April, Pierson and his peers convened the inaugural National Forum of State Economic Development Leaders, a two-day event that established priorities for federal support of economic development in the states. That event featured Commerce Secretary Ross and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.