April 12, 2016 03:13 PM
A new online portal, acadianaopportunity.com, is the latest strategic effort among state officials and community partners from Lake Charles to Lafayette to address job losses resulting from plummeting energy prices.
One Acadiana's Jason El Koubi
Photo by Robin May

The online portal, which was unveiled April 11, is designed to help connect unemployed or underemployed workers from the Acadiana area with suitable jobs in the Lake Charles region. It will also link the to training opportunities.

The site is a collaborative effort between Louisiana Economic Development, the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, One Acadiana, the Louisiana Workforce Commission along with the two Workforce Development Boards in the region, Louisiana Job Connection and South Louisiana Community College.

“There are numerous opportunities along the I-10 corridor from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge for displaced energy, construction and manufacturing workers and for our businesses,” says Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of LEDA, in a press release. “The Acadiana Workforce Opportunities Initiative is another illustration of the collaborative nature of our community. Our organizations will continue to identify companies who are actively hiring and connect them with our displaced workers.”

“At the same time One Acadiana is recruiting new companies to diversify our regional economy, we’re also focused on protecting our base of companies already here and the workers who provide the backbone of our economy,” says Jason El Koubi, One Acadiana president and CEO.

Those local officials say workers who have been recently laid off may be eligible for grant funds to pay for training and certification classes. The website provides initial eligibility screening to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Users will learn about the job opportunities outside the oil and gas industry and get instructions on applying for unemployment benefits.

Gerald Bowers, a client of the Lafayette Workforce Development Board, was eligible to receive full tuition assistance through the Lafayette Business and Career Solutions Center. Bowers completed a seven-week Commercial Vehicle Operator program at SLCC and is now employed as a truck driver with Prime Inc.

AcadianaOpportunity.com also links people to SLCC, where the training and certification classes will be taught. Visitors to the site should complete the college’s contact form online for more opportunities available through SLCC.

Visitors to the site can also access Louisiana Job Connection, a site designed by Louisiana Economic Development that matches users with available jobs based on their skills and experience. After posting their resume for free, job seekers will start receiving matches. As new jobs are posted, the site will send matches directly to the job seeker, eliminating the need for constant searching.

Job seekers also have access to the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s online jobs and training portal called HiRE, or Helping Individuals Reach Employment. HiRE is one of the nation’s most advanced workforce development systems, where job seekers can gain access to training opportunities to advance their skill sets and apply for jobs that match their qualifications, interests and salary requirements.

For those without access to a computer or the internet, the Louisiana Workforce Commission has Business and Career Solutions Centers in almost every parish of the state to offer these services with hands-on assistance from experienced professionals. These local offices offer résumé building assistance, interview tips, job counseling, skills assessments and much more.

In addition to serving job seekers, the LWC offers essential services and training opportunities to Louisiana employers who wish to invest in their employees’ futures. The Incumbent Worker Training Program, funded by unemployment insurance tax contributions, brings together the LWC, business and industry leaders and training providers to advance the employees’ existing skills to promote employee productivity and company growth.

The launch of AcadianaOpportunity.com follows the successful Industrial Trades Career Fair held at the Cajundome Convention Center in early March. Thirty-six companies from across South Louisiana participated in the event, which attracted 1,800 job seekers.

Company representatives reported making 72 job offers at the event, with 266 additional interviews scheduled. More than 80 percent of company representatives said it was likely they would hire a job seeker who attended the event, and 91 percent rated the job seekers they met as excellent or good. The majority of the job seekers at the event were from Lafayette Parish, and 78 percent of job seekers indicated they were currently unemployed with 10 or more years of work experience.

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