RPCC expands to meet industry needs

RPCC expands to meet industry needs
A rendering of what the finished facility should look like (Source: Cheryl Mercedes/WAFB)
A rendering of what the finished facility should look like (Source: Cheryl Mercedes/WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - River Parishes Community College is expanding to meet the needs of a booming petro-chemical industry in Ascension Parish.

The petro-chemical industry along the Mississippi River has long fueled the economy. Plant expansions have opened opportunities for skilled workers but filling those jobs has become a challenge.

RPCC Chancellor, Dale Doty, PhD., said the school had been working with industry to get students ready to help meet those demands. But, he said, the need became bigger than the college had imagined.

"This has been a need for a long time. It was very clear that RPCC was not doing as much training for the industry as we needed to," Doty said.

A move by the 2013 legislature helped RPCC and 28 other technical colleges across the state established a program that would allow the state to put up 12% of the cost of expansions at technical training campuses.

Doty said last spring, in less than 90 days, 32 different businesses in Ascension Parish put up enough money to make RPCC the first college in the state to get to work.

"That's a testament to the community's commitment to training local industry," Doty said.

RPCC is already training welders, pipe fitters, and electricians. Now the school is growing even smarter.

Vice Chancellor for RPCC Workforce Development, Bruce Waguespack, PhD., said industry was involved in designing the school's new Technical Training Center to make sure when students go to work they are the perfect fit.

"They can spend less time getting an education that will help them earn more money. We went to create success. That's what it's all about," Waguespack said.

The expansion project is out for bid and should be under construction later this year.

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