Competent workforce captures top spot on priorities list

By Jim Shannon - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce has released its list of top priorities for the New Year, with competent employees garnering the No. 1 spot for the third year in a row.

Christine Bannister has owned and operated Christina's restaurant for 16 years. She whole-heartedly agrees with the chamber that businesses need a competent workforce.

"Some of them cannot read," she said. "They tell you they know how to read and you give them a ticket to read and they cannot read it. They don't know the difference between bacon or sausage."

According to Adam Knapp with the area chamber, strides are being made on how to recruit competent employees, but more are needed.

"It's been a challenge," he said. "It's one of the top things every time we meet a prospect. It's the number one issue that comes out of their mouths is talking about the education system."

Potential employees lacking proper education is a problem many established businesses have battled for years. Other important areas Bannister mentioned were the ability to perform the duties they need to and showing up for work.

She admitted she has had some success with the work-release programs provided by area sheriff's offices. They bring trustees with minor criminal convictions to her restaurant and pick them up afterwards. The trustees show up to work sober and on time, luxuries she claimed she has not enjoyed from the regular workforce. Chamber officials say they are gaining ground on the problem.

"The first problem is acknowledging that you have one. The fact is a lot of folks are aggressively working on it," he said.

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