STEDF Workforce Development Series Engages 20 Partners In Data, Solutions-Driven Coalition
MANDEVILLE, LA – The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (STEDF) Workforce Development Series concluded on Nov. 16, 2016, with its annual workforce overview for the region. In creating a broader awareness of workforce development trends and challenges, the Workforce Development Series seeks forward-thinking, collaborative solutions.
The six 2016 series events discussed:
• April: Re-entry Challenges & Opportunities
facilitated by Judge William Knight
• May: Information Technology
facilitated by Jennifer Barnett
• September: STEM Education & Pathways
facilitated by Dr. Daniel Roberts
• October: Maritime
facilitated by George Burkley, executive director of the Maritime Pilots Institute
• October: Healthcare and Hospitals
facilitated by Sharon Landry
• November: Regional Workforce Overview
facilitated by Jennifer Barnett
Ashley Cangelosi Llewellyn, development director for STEDF, organizes the annual series.
“The 2016 Workforce Development Series served as an incredible forum, not only for our business and industry partners, but for creating a stronger coalition between education, workforce and economic development partners,” said Llewellyn. “We were excited to see participation from long-time St. Tammany companies as well as newcomers to our community.”
The STEDF Workforce Development Series engaged approximately 20 organizations including Northshore Technical Community College, the Louisiana Workforce Commission, St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, Southeastern Louisiana University, Delta Regional Authority and St. Tammany Parish Government as well as business and industry partners.
“These interactive and robust conversations have strengthened relationships around workforce and created a greater connectivity,” said Jennifer Barnett, business strategies director for the Region One Workforce Board Partnership. “I am pleased that we have been able to provide the data and trend analysis to help better position St. Tammany for the future through these relationships.”
Each gathering focused on one topic to stimulate the dialogue. Analysts offered projections for the future of the parish, businesses shared their expectations and requirements for the workforce and educators discussed opportunities to implement the information in new curriculums.
According to data presented by Barnett in the information technology Series event, companies posted an average of 985 IT jobs a month in the first quarter of 2016 and filled an average of 411 positions a month. Participants discussed strategies for addressing the current demand, forming a separate Information Technology Working Group to coordinate efforts.
Dr. Daniel Roberts, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at Northshore Technical Community College, facilitated the Series event on STEM education and pathways.
“STEM Pathways provide a defined curriculum map between institutions of higher learning that allow students to successfully navigate toward completion of associate and baccalaureate degrees,” Roberts said. “Students are more motivated to completion when the end-goal is articulated clearly. Through participation in the Workforce Development Series, we have been able to take a holistic approach to developing pathways that include key stakeholders and industry partners.”
As reported by Judge William Knight of the 22nd Judicial District Court, Louisiana incarcerates more citizens per capita than any other state. The average sentence length is among the highest in the United States—yet 42 percent of former inmates return to jail after five years. Series participants discussed the value of the Reentry Court program to local employers, residents and law enforcement. According to Judge Knight, 93.5 percent of Reentry Court participants obtained full-time jobs. 6.5 percent of participants obtained part-time jobs.
“As the employment demand in the healthcare industry continues to grow, it is imperative that our hospitals, clinics and facilities are able to recruit and retain the most qualified and well-trained workers to meet the need,” Sharon Landry, executive director of the Northshore Healthcare Alliance, said. “This is especially important in the state of Louisiana, which consistently faces numerous challenges in our population health status and outcomes. The support and collaboration of our area hospitals, government agencies, educational institutions and training facilities will help to ensure that these efforts are successful.”
According to Barnett, the top occupations in demand in St. Tammany over the next five years include registered nurses, material movers, general and operations managers, customer service representatives and janitors. The number of job openings in these areas will increase by an average of 15 percent by 2020.
“The Workforce Development Series presents an opportunity to engage collaboratively with timely data about our parish and our region’s workforce," said Llewellyn. "In order to help our community grow and prosper, we need to know where we’re currently headed, and then identify what we can do to sustain the most vibrant, well-trained and well-employed workforce we can.”