Editorial: Capital One steps up with workforce development donation

A regional bank deserves a tip of the cap for providing money that will help train the workforce for the industrial construction

surge coming to Southwest Louisiana.

Capital One Bank has promised a grant

of more than $80,000 to provide scholarship assistance for a compressed

Workforce Development

program Sowela Technical Community College geared to training

welder, millrights and machinists.

The money will be used to pay for one-third of tuition for 83 students.

“The generous support from Capital One

Bank is truly an innovative solution in opening the door for low- to

moderate-income

students,” said Sowela Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall. “Federal

financial aid is typically only available for credit courses

in two-year and four-year degree programs. People seeking skills

training in non-credit courses such as welding and machining

are not eligible for financial aid through traditional means.

“As a result of the scholarship support from Capital One Bank, our non-credit machining and welding programs at Sowela are

available to the individuals who need it the most.”

The intense training course lasts 24

weeks as Sowela ramps up to meet the looming demand for skilled workers.

One estimate

has suggested that the coming expansion in Southwest Louisiana’s

petro-chemical complex will require 5,000 welders and 3,500

pipefitters.

The more of those jobs that can be filled by area residents, the better for our corner of the state. Hence, the fast-track

approach to training workers.

Nineteen students are currently enrolled in a accelerated program to train machinists and millrights. Two more classes in

machining and welding will be offered during the evening hours beginning November 4.

Dr. Joseph Fleishman, Sowela’s vice chancellor for Workforce Development, said the bank’s partnership with the college was

a “perfect example of thinking out of the box.”

“This is a case of scholarships impacting the lives of up to 83 individuals and helping them secure employment in good paying

jobs and in careers that are in high demand,” he said.

Heretofore, most of the donations in money and equipment for workforce development at Sowela has come from companies that

will be hiring these graduates of the program. There’s no such direct benefit for Capital One.

“At Capital One Bank, we are committed

to investing for good in our local communities, and a major component of

that commitment

is supporting workforce development,” said Fil Bordelon, the

bank’s Lake Charles Area president. ‘‘Through this partnership

with Sowela, we are addressing a key building block of economic

opportunity in Lake Charles and surrounding communities.”

Aspinwall said other companies are considering similar type scholarship donations.

We hope that is true because the shear size and scope of the need for skilled labor training just can’t be left up to state

and local government and the petro-chemical companies to fund.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.