The Louisiana Workforce Commission’s current five-year strategic plan makes the following bold statement: “We will make Louisiana the best place in the country to get a job or grow a business.”

That’s a lofty goal that should excite all of us as Louisianians.

To achieve it, we must work together to equip our citizens with the skills needed in today’s job market. To do that, we need to support funding for much-needed facilities at Louisiana’s community and technical colleges.

Studies have shown that, for most jobs in Louisiana, people don’t need a four-year degree — but do need more than a high school diploma. That means they need the specialized instruction and job training available at our two-year colleges.

Without relevant job skills and training, our citizens end up unemployed or underemployed, or they leave the state looking for gainful employment.

Louisiana’s community and technical colleges are working hard to prevent that from happening. The workforce needs of business and industry are our top priority. As a result, enrollment at our campuses has skyrocketed from 48,000 to 72,000 over the past five years.

What’s more, our graduates earn almost 9 percent more than their counterparts at four-year institutions, and remain employed at a higher rate 18 months after graduation.

Clearly, our community and technical colleges are providing the training our citizens want and need and the human capital business and industry requires.

However, our success brings with it a new set of challenges: We must be able to accommodate the steady stream of new students flooding our campuses, while simultaneously making available to them the most-current technology and equipment required in the 21st century workplace.

Many of the facilities at our 14 colleges are undersized or outdated. New and remodeled buildings are needed to handle our rapid growth and prepare our graduates for the demands of today’s job market.

Louisiana’s community colleges will be working with the state Legislature to provide more than $240 million for 24 construction projects needed at our campuses statewide. In today’s constantly changing business landscape, such capital improvements are imperative in order to provide training for tomorrow’s workforce. Our commitment is to continue to invest in, and improve, our facilities for career and technical programs to meet the growing demand for skilled labor.

Your support, and that of the state Legislature, for such funding will enable us to maintain the course — one of unprecedented enrollment growth and program development. It will also keep us on the path of meeting the Workforce Commission’s goal of making our state No. 1 in the nation in job and business opportunities.

Support for Louisiana’s community and technical colleges today will produce tangible, economically beneficial results for our state tomorrow.

Joe May, president

Louisiana Community and Technical College System

Baton Rouge