State and local agencies have developed a website to connect the unemployed and underemployed from the battered energy sector to jobs and training for the now-hiring petrochemical and liquid natural gas plants in southeast and southwest Louisiana.
AcadianaOpportunity.com was unveiled Monday, a website through which the unemployed can connect to jobs and, if needed, training.
Dubbed the Acadiana Workforce Opportunities Connection, the effort is a collaboration among the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, One Acadiana, Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Workforce Commission, South Louisiana Community College and area workforce development boards.
“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,” said Gregg Gothreaux, president and chief executive for LEDA.
More than 12,000 oil and gas workers have lost jobs due to a falloff in oil prices that started in mid-2014. Many of those people have skills that are transferable to industrial jobs in energy’s downstream arena, including in LNG and petrochemical plants.
Don Pierson Jr., secretary of LED, said southwest Louisiana alone has contracts for tens of billions of dollars in projects in the LNG and petrochemical industries.
“That’s not the situation here in Lafayette and Acadiana. We recognize that,” Pierson said at the announcement, held in the offices of LEDA. Pierson said the effort to connect unemployed energy workers to jobs will be duplicated in Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes, which have been hit hard, too. He said LEDA’s FastStart Program also is available.
The jobs connection project follows the successful Industrial Trades Career Fair, held March 3, that brought 1,800 job seekers and 36 hiring companies together at the Cajundome Convention Center. The hiring companies, most of them from the LNG and petrochemical sectors, interviewed 266 applicants and made 72 job offers on the day of the fair. Officials said Monday that 100 of the 1,800 who sought jobs at the fair were hired.
Though some unemployed workers are able to directly transfer to energy’s downstream sector, others need training. Greg DeCluet, business services manager at Louisiana Workforce Commission, said AcadianaOpportunity.com has links to training, available funds that can be used for training and a fast screening process that shows who is eligible for funds.
Willie Smith, SLCC vice chancellor for Economic and Workforce Development, said training a worker for a new career can take as little as seven weeks at SLCC’s eight campuses.
Jason El Koubi, president and chief executive for One Acadiana, said the efforts to find local residents jobs miles away from south-central Louisiana should be temporary. Oil and gas, he said, will bounce back.
“Protecting our base” — the oil and gas industry and its workers — “is priority No. 1,” said El Koubi, whose One Acadiana is an economic development agency for nine parishes in south-central Louisiana.
Follow Billy Gunn on Twitter, @BillyGunnAcad.