Industry group helping to meet petrochemical jobs' demand

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - Workforce development forecasters report tens of thousands of jobs in the petrochemical industry will open up in less than two years. Local community colleges are training students to fill those positions.

The Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance, or GABRIA, works behind the scenes to make sure industry has the workers it needs to thrive.

Executive Director Connie Fabre' said there are an estimated 600,000 people in Louisiana who are not working because they lack the skills.

"We said, boy we want to be prepared. We want to have enough workers. We don't want to lose projects because companies are saying, where will the workforce come from," Fabre said.

It comes from a classroom where students are learning techniques to work in industry.

Future millwrights at the Baker Workforce Development Center are learning how to level and align tools used to build machines.

City of Baker Mayor Harold Rideau said he opened the school to help feed the growing market.

''There's a need right here in the community with the corporations in the area that can hire these young folks and give them opportunity," Rideau said.

A team of workers at GBRIA helps connect industry with educators at area community colleges.

Director of Safety and Workforce Development Trey Rivet explained the team helps schools build curriculums that fit industry standards.

"The students are ready to go as soon as they graduate from technical colleges. They're ready to go to work the next day," Rivet said.

According to the GBRIA labor forecast, the demand for industry workers will reach its peak in the year 2016.

"Eighty six thousand jobs should be created in the next two years," GBRIA Public Affairs Director Andrew Mongrue said.

GABRIA predicts plants will be looking to hire 6,300 electrical and instrument technicians, 4,500 pipefitters, and more than 3,100 welders.

"We're hoping to get more Louisiana residents in that pipeline to participate," Fabre said.

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