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Legislative committee meets on workforce needs

Last Modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:45 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Officials representing locally-based industries, education and government told state lawmakers on Tuesday about the need to train skilled workers ahead of the industrial projects coming to Southwest Louisiana.

Members of the Joint Committee on House and Senate Labor and Industrial Relations heard about what will be needed to build and sustain a skilled workforce to accommodate for announced industrial projects coming to the region. Two of those projects include Sasol’s plans to spend up to $21 billion on building gas-to-liquids and ethylene complexes and an estimated $10 billion to expand the Trunkline LNG plant in Lake Charles.

Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said they are expecting the state to gain 80,000 new jobs over the next several years. With more than a quarter of those jobs expected for the Southwest Louisiana area, he said it’s important to make sure local residents aren’t left out of potential job opportunities.

Eysink said the commission is looking for workers from several different areas, including unemployed and underemployed industry workers, veterans, high school graduates and some college graduates.

Committee member Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, said one underlying issue is that some skilled workers will need time with an experienced skilled worker before they can perform the job unsupervised.

Nancy Tower, workforce development manager for Sasol, said many of the company’s 400-plus current local employees have participated in career fairs to find workers who could fill entry-level positions that may become available once the existing workers earn additional skills.

For more, read Wednesday's edition of the American Press.

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