LEDA/Opportunity Machine

Opportunities Abound The Feb. 22 Industrial Trades Career Fair is the place to be for those looking for jobs or career advancement.

by Gregg Gothreaux, LEDA

The local economy is an intricate web of businesses that rely on each other for products, services and customers. When a predominant industry hurts, other sectors will eventually be impacted as well. Not surprisingly, the downturn in the energy sector is the predominate cause of the job loss we’ve seen in the region — 8,500 of the 17,000 jobs lost since June 2014.

That’s a tough pill to swallow for many in the community. If you haven’t been impacted personally, chances are you know someone who has. However, we’ve never been a community to sit back and let things happen to us. We go out and make a change.

It’s in that spirit that community partners are working together to address workforce needs in Acadiana and South Louisiana by connecting workers with jobs and local resources. The latest effort in that collaboration is the second annual Industrial Trades Career Fair that will take place Feb. 22.

LEDA, LED FastStart, Louisiana Workforce Commission and One Acadiana will host the event.

There are numerous opportunities along the I-10 corridor from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge for our displaced energy, construction and manufacturing workers and for our businesses. Lake Charles has added 10,300 jobs since July 2014 — 4,100 of those jobs are in construction or manufacturing. The Baton Rouge region has added 26,900 jobs since July 2014 — 3,700 of those jobs are in construction or manufacturing. Oil industry skill sets are often easily transferable to the construction industry.

Companies participating at the event are hiring for industrial positions across South Louisiana, including pipefitter, electrician, ironworker, painter, equipment operator, scaffolders, welder, instrument technician, carpenter and others. These companies include contractors that are building LNG plants such as CB&I and Pala Group, as well as industrial plants and other contractors such as Brock Services, Excel Contractors and more. Ernest P. Breaux Electrical and Louisiana CAT are also among local participating employers.

Along with the companies, representatives from LWC and South Louisiana Community College will be on hand to meet with job seekers to explain job services and training opportunities. Local résumé coaches/writers will also be available to review job seekers’ résumés.

Company representatives reported making 72 job offers at the 2016 Career Fair, with an additional 266 interviews scheduled in the weeks immediately following the event.

AcadianaOpportunity.com was launched following the successful 2016 Industrial Trades Career Fair.

AcadianaOpportunity.com is an online portal connecting people with training opportunities and new jobs.

Not only can workers search for job openings, they can review training opportunities that may make the transition to another industry smoother.

Individuals who have been recently laid off may be eligible for grant funds to pay for training and certification classes. This website provides initial eligibility screening to the LWC. Users will learn about the job opportunities outside the oil and gas industry and get instructions on applying for unemployment benefits.

These online services are a complement to the LWC’s Business and Career Solutions Centers, which offer hands-on assistance from experienced professionals. These local offices offer résumé-building assistance, interview tips, job counseling, skills assessments and much more.

The petrochemical projects locating in southwest Louisiana offer numerous opportunities for our community in a time when many companies and individuals are facing economic uncertainty.

LEDA will continue to work with our allies in the region and these companies through the planning, construction and operation phases to maximize the local economic impact of these projects.

Indeed, the local economy is an intricate web of businesses. More important, it’s an intricate web of people — neighbors helping neighbors.

Gregg Gothreaux is president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.