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|Jindal touts workforce development in Monroe visit|
Fresh off the successes of two special legislative sessions, Gov. Bobby Jindal has taken aim at what he describes as an under-trained workforce in Louisiana.
Jindal was on hand at Delta Community College's poly processing lab in Monroe Tuesday to unveil a five-point plan aimed at improving Louisiana worker education.
Jindal told a crowd of more than 100 that worker education and training are key to Louisiana's future economic success.
"Over half the jobs in the new economy are going to require a community college or university degree," Jindal said.
While some 84 percent of the 100,000 estimated job vacancies in Louisiana require a degree of some kind, Jindal said fewer than 12 percent of Louisiana residents hold an associates degree or higher.
One key to correcting that discrepancy is the continued development of Louisiana's community college system.
"We have some of the fastest growing community and technical colleges in Louisiana," Jindal said. He said enrollment in the vocational and community college programs has doubled since 1999.
Jindal said businesses considering locating or expanding in Louisiana look to community and technical colleges to help provide a skilled labor force.
One way Jindal said Louisiana could help bring jobs to the state is by instituting what he called a "day one guarantee."
"We need a guarantee that our people will be ready to go to work on day one or we will retrain them for free," Jindal said.
Jindal also committed additional funding to the state community college system, including the creation of a $10-million-per-year training fund for high-demand, high-cost programs.
Also, Jindal committed to build a "fast start" program so that businesses seeking to expand in Louisiana can work with community and technical colleges to create customized, turn-key training courses for potential employees.
Jindal's proposed budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year also sets aside some $4 million to expand the state's dual enrollment system for high school students.
Jindal said that money would give some high school students the opportunity to attend community college and technical school classes early, which is key to keeping them in school.
"We need to show them the opportunities and careers that are available if they continue their college education," Jindal said.
Jindal's message of workforce development hit close to home for Delta Community College chancellor Luke Robbins, who applauded the governor's initiative.
"Governor, I'm glad to tell you Delta Community College is ready to make a day-one guarantee," Robbins said.