Higher Learning

The region’s economy depends on an educated workforce.

As the Greater New Orleans economy evolves, the most critical ingredient will be having a skilled and educated workforce in the region. In fact, higher education is the bedrock for strong economic development, providing an environment for industry growth and economic mobility opportunities for the workforce.

To this end, the Louisiana Board of Regents, a state agency focused being a force for talent development through quality, affordable post-secondary education for all, and the Louisiana Community & Technical College System are delivering high-impact results through innovative industry partnerships and demand-driven curricula. As a result, workers are performing at a higher level because of the programs that these schools are delivering to students.

IMPORTANCE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

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Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, commissioner of higher education at the Louisiana Board of Regents, believes there are two important roles that higher education plays in economic development: job creation and attracting and retaining businesses. She also added that promoting entrepreneurship, and research that translates into the development of new products and businesses, can draw companies to the state.

“That’s why we’re promoting access to education and the opportunities these credentials can provide,” Reed said. “It is important to recognize the breadth of the offerings encompassed by college today. Yes, our institutions offer traditional degrees that have stood the test of time, and advanced degrees that allow specialization in a field, but they also offer technical diplomas and short-term industry-based certifications that provide practical workforce-focused training.”

In addition to working with business and industry, the Louisiana Board of Regents also collaborates with the governor, the legislature, K-12 and higher education partners, and community leaders. “We set the state’s strategic vision and common goal through our master plan for higher education,” Dr. Reed said.

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The master plan, titled “Louisiana Prospers: Driving our Talent Imperative,” calls for 60 percent of all working-age adults (ages 25-64) in Louisiana to hold a degree of high-value credential by 2030. “The plan was informed by my visits to every campus in our state — discussing challenges and opportunities with higher education leadership, students, faculty, business and elected leaders — in rural and urban communities,” Reed said. “We’re committed to innovation, research and support for a strong economy.”

While the plan calls for 60 percent of Louisiana residents to hold a credential of value by 2030, today the state is at about 48 percent. In order to reach its goal, the Louisiana Board of Regents aims to serve more students, while also improving success outcomes for those students.

The Master Plan is more important now than ever as Louisiana continues to struggle with high poverty, low educational attainment, uneven access to higher education, and a need for increased and diverse high-wage employment opportunities.

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“Having a talent development vision, setting a goal, implementing a plan and measuring results—all of that is important to achieving our intentional goal,” Reed said. “It’s not only about increasing the number of credentials in our state. It’s also about supporting the economic mobility of our people.”

HIGHER EDUCATION MEETS INDUSTRY TO DRIVE PROGRAMMING

In order to meet talent demand, the Louisiana Board of Regents has developed innovative industry partnerships and demand-driven curricula to deliver high-impact results. One example is a partnership between the Louisiana Board of Regents, GNO, Inc., and NASA to address specific skill shortages in the space industry. “NASA needs more aerospace engineers and astrophysicists to design the next generation of space vehicles, but they also need more process technicians, welders and machinists to build the rockets of today and tomorrow,” Reed said. “Using analysis of workforce data, combined with NASA’s specific skill needs, we will be working with our universities and colleges to expand existing degree programs and build new credentials to meet demand in this critical area.”

The Louisiana Board of Regents also launched the Regional Healthcare Innovation program to fund partnerships between healthcare providers and the state’s colleges and universities, designed to increase the number of healthcare workers across the state. And the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) — created in 1999 and a part of the Louisiana Board of Regents — is playing an important role in driving industry-driven programming and partnerships to advance education-to-employment pipelines in the state.

“Our goal is to educate and train Louisiana citizens, and to prepare them to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year college or university,” said Dr. Chandler LeBoeuf, governmental and public affairs officer at LCTCS. “We believe it is our priority to help solve problems faced by employers, build strong communities, strengthen our state’s economy and create a growing middle class. Our colleges serve more than 150,000 students, graduating more than 30,000 each year.”

The four individual LCTCS schools in the Greater New Orleans region — Delgado Community College, River Parishes Community College, Northshore Technical Community College and Nunez Community College — have several industry driven programs designed to deliver high-impact results. For example, Delgado Community College, Northshore Technical Community College and Nunez Community College offer the Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program, which prepares student apprentices to be fully qualified in multiple aspects of advanced manufacturing technology. 

The two-year program (in partnership with GNO, Inc., Laitram, LLC., Zatarain’s and Elmer Chocolate) provides both technical classroom instruction and on-the-job training. “Once assigned to an employer, apprentices earn a paycheck while learning on the job,” LeBoeuf said.

Meanwhile, River Parishes Community College’s PET Plant — designed and built by local industry partners — is used to train the college’s students in industry programs such as process technology, instrumentation and electrical technology, millwright and welding. Additionally, industry partners can provide new-hire refresher training, continuing education and troubleshooting training at the site.

Other examples include the Nunez Offshore Wind Training Program, in partnership with UNO and Energy Innovation, which prepares the next generation of offshore wind workforce. There’s also the Delgado Allied Health School, in partnership with Ochsner, which meets the demand of the nursing shortage and other in-demand life science and healthcare occupations.

STUDENT SUCCESS & ECONOMIC MOBILITY

While getting students to enroll in colleges and universities across the state is the first step, having those students complete a credential of value is the ultimate goal. The Louisiana Board of Regents has developed a comprehensive approach. Dubbed “Louisiana’s Meauxmentum Approach,” its goal is to increase student success and economic mobility.

“Built on successful evidence-based practices and the latest research from across the country, the momentum approach is a proven framework designed to significantly improve student success and close equity gaps across our state,” Reed said. “In February, we brought together over 300 members of the higher education community at our inaugural Meauxmentum Summit, the first such event in the state’s history. Each of our public undergraduate institutions sent cross-functional leadership teams, including students, to better understand the framework and to hear from others who have successfully implemented this work.”

Reed said they engaged in intensive, campus-specific workshops to design plans to fully implement the Louisiana Meauxmentum Framework by Fall 2024. “We are confident that this collaborative work will create an environment that strengthens success and improves economic mobility for students across all of our colleges and universities,” she said.

LCTCS and colleges in the GNO region play a critical role in not only industry growth, but the growth of students and the communities in which they live. The Meauxmentum Framework is a win for students, employers, and communities. LCTCS is building the structure for continued success that will drive generational wealth.

To this end, LCTCS created the MJ Foster Promise Program. Named after former Louisiana Governor Mike J. Foster, the MJ Foster Promise Program is a new $10.5 million annual state fund that will provide financial support for students to earn credentials that align to high-demand jobs in these growing industry sectors. The program is providing the support for students to succeed in healthcare, manufacturing, IT, transportation, and construction industries.

The Louisiana Legislature made a $25 million investment in healthcare training, and LCTCS community and technical colleges have trained over 5,500 individuals to work in healthcare in the last year. And LeBoeuf said the colleges in the region are playing a huge role in making sure the healthcare partners serve a role in solving the workforce’s needs.

The program was created from a need to help industry meet talent demands, but the ultimate goal was to provide a pathway to prosperity in a high-wage, high-demand career. “Healthcare is one of the industry sectors today that continues to have a growing need for a workforce, and our colleges are working hard to educate and train future healthcare workers,” LeBoeuf said.

Josh Tatum, Vice President of Business Growth & Retention at GNO Inc., summed up the role of higher education and workforce development when it comes to growing a strong economy.

“The long-term success of the Greater New Orleans region is predicated on our ability to expand and sustain a skilled workforce available to our region’s growing industry sectors,” Tatum said. “Without continued investments, coordination, and industry-driven models within our higher education and workforce development systems, industry will not be able to have sustainable growth in the region and state.”


During the 2022-2023 academic year, the four LCTCS colleges in the Greater New Orleans region – Delgado Community College, Northshore Technical Community College, Nunez Community College, and River Parishes Community College – have served approximately 10,000 students through their academic, workforce, and adult education programs.

Dcc Nursing And Allied Health

Delgado Community College is a diverse, dynamic, open-admissions community college providing high-quality education through innovation and excellence in teaching and learning. Operating from six campuses in Greater New Orleans, the school offers a variety of academic and workforce programs through the Associate degree and is committed to nurturing and sustaining an inclusive culture to support student success.

Northshore 1991 22 1

Northshore Technical Community College provides quality workforce training and transfer opportunities by awarding associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates to students seeking a competitive edge in today’s global economy. With campus locations in Livingston, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington Parishes, NTCC is the community college of the Northshore.

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Nunez Community College is a student-centered institution that delivers relevant and innovative curriculum integrating the arts, sciences, and humanities leading to academic credentials and workforce opportunities. Located in St. Bernard Parish, Nunez serves a vital role in the community by engaging with partners to support student success and personal growth.

Gonzales Campus

River Parishes Community College is a public community college which was established in the late 1990s, during the creation of the state’s system of community and technical colleges, LCTCS. The school operates four campuses in south Louisiana, functioning as a multi-campus true community college serving all of the communities of the River Region with first class facilities and a full range of services.

 

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