Thu, 25 September, 2008

Meeting Opens Talks 'Beyond High School'

Business, education and government leaders on Thursday met in the first of a series of discussions focused on developing more effective education and training opportunities for the future workforce of Central Louisiana.

Spearheaded by The Rapides Foundation, the discussions are centering on the theme “Beyond High School: What Will it Take to Build Cenla’s Next Workforce?”

“We are convinced that the future of Central Louisiana’s economy will be decided by the knowledge and skills of its workforce,” said Joe Rosier, The Rapides Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are inviting the community and its leadership to participate and develop a coordinated plan for education and training opportunities.”

The Louisiana Workforce Commission estimates that 65 percent of the skilled jobs in the state’s workforce over the next 10 years will require more than a high school education, but less than a baccalaureate degree. The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana states that approximately two-thirds of all new jobs in the next few decades will require more training than high school but less than a four-year college degree. It further states that “good community and technical college systems fill this void by providing accessible, affordable access to job skills training for any citizen who wants a good job.”

“If we are to prosper, we must develop a more effective approach to recruiting, training and educating our high school graduates,” Rosier said. “We must improve our capacity to upgrade the skills of our adult labor force, and we must develop a responsive system that can step up to the challenge of servicing the increasingly complex skills requirements of our businesses.”

The Foundation is spearheading these discussions as part of its initiative in economic development. It engaged Regional Technology Strategies Inc. from Chapel Hill, N.C., to help it respond to these information and analysis needs. RTS is a nonprofit firm with internationally recognized post-secondary workforce development and economic development expertise. RTS has worked extensively in Central Louisiana.

The Rapides Foundation hopes to facilitate community learning around the following: 


  • To gain an incisive understanding of what makes our economy tick and where it is likely to go in the future.  
  • To understand the roles, programs, output levels, contributions and challenges within Cenla’s community of existing education and training providers. 
  • To get an estimate for the likely future demand for a comprehensive, effective and responsive post-secondary workforce system. 
  • To identify and understand if there is a gap between what our current system can provide and the likely future demand both in terms of overall scale and in terms of education and training programs. 
  • To gain a thorough understanding of what is working well in other regional, comprehensive post-secondary systems.  

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