SLCC receives grant for workforce training program _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- South Louisiana Community College Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development Willie Smith.

South Louisiana Community College received $1.5 million of the $40 million set aside in the state’s competitive grant program to fund workforce training programs at the state’s college’s and universities.

The WISE — Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy — Fund was created in the 2014 legislative session as a competitive fund for proposals submitted by colleges and universities to meet workforce demand projections.

The $1.5 million awarded to SLCC will pay for an expansion of training opportunities for students to meet the industry needs of businesses in the eight communities the college serves, said Willie Smith, SLCC vice chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development.

The money focuses on programs in six areas: application software development, customized manufacturing machinists, machine tool technology, oil and gas, painting and coating, and welding.

“These programs are going to address current and future needs in these industries in Abbeville, Crowley, Franklin, Lafayette, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville and Ville Platte,” Smith said. “These programs will also prepare our graduates, from all of these areas to step into high-wage, high-demand jobs post graduation.”

The college recently created a new software application development program to meet demand for specialists in the field. It also plans to expand its day and evening training courses for customized manufacturing machinists with the WISE Fund grant.

Expansions of machine tool labs, information technology labs and welding shops at the college’s campuses in Lafayette, New Iberia and Opelousas are also planned. Additional faculty will be hired to enable students to earn a technical diploma in 12 months in oil and gas production.

A 15-week program to train downhole tool technicians is also in the works.

Another new development helped by the WISE Fund investment involves a partnership with Aviation Exteriors to develop a customized training program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to prepare students for jobs as industrial painting and coating technicians in the fields of aviation, oil field equipment manufacturing, heaving equipment manufacturing or automotive/diesel manufacturing.