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Truck drivers file photo

Truck drivers and registered nurses will see the largest number of job openings in the Baton Rouge region over the next year of any occupation, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber projects in its annual workforce report.

A busy construction sector in the region will drive the demand for heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers to move materials and equipment, and BRAC projects 690 openings for those drivers.

“Workforce is one of the most challenging issues for businesses both regionally and nationwide and ensuring that our talent pipeline is robust and aligned with actual jobs is key,” said Stephen Toups, a Turner Industries executive and chair of BRAC’s business development advisory committee.

Last year’s report pegged electricians, nurses and carpenters as the region’s most sought-after workers.

Several relatively high-paying occupations, including carpenters, pipe fitters and machinists, are in high demand but the number of people completing training are down or stagnant. Those three occupations combined will have nearly 1,000 openings next year, the report said. Welding has a high number completing training.

Manufacturing and construction jobs account for one-fifth of the region’s total employment, BRAC said.

BRAC projects 580 openings for registered nurses next year, making it the second-highest source of job openings in the region. Some of the Capital Region’s rural parishes might have trouble meeting demand for nurses and other medical professionals because of their preference to work in urban areas, according to the report.

BRAC aggregated several data sources, including those from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Emsi and BRAC’s internal analysis, to compile the report. The chamber analyzed five industries that are expected to experience high growth next year: construction, manufacturing, health care, professional and business services, and technology.

Technology job growth has fully rebounded from the Great Recession, BRAC said, with total employment hitting a 10-year high. The sector accounted for 2.5 percent of all job growth in Baton Rouge from 2010 to 2017.

Computer programmers and network and computer systems administrators will have the highest number of openings in the sector, at 60 each. Computer system analysts and software developers will have 50 openings each.

The highest median wages of any occupation analyzed in the report was for chemical engineers at $53.30 an hour. BRAC projects 100 jobs openings for chemical engineers.

Follow Sam Karlin on Twitter, @samkarlin.