Baker Workforce Development Center will train residents for refinery jobs

Published: Aug. 7, 2014 at 9:14 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2014 at 9:27 PM CDT
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Baker Workforce Development Center (Source: WAFB)
Baker Workforce Development Center (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Community College and the city of Baker are helping to fill a big need in the petrochemical industry.

On Thursday, local leaders cut the ribbon on the Baker Workforce Development Center. People will be trained there to enter the work at local refineries and plants.

The former Baker Fire station has been transformed into a learning environment filled with unique opportunities. Students are learning how to level and align tools used to build machines.

Student Byron Bradford and his classmates are the first to go through the new course offered by BRCC. Bradford said he is learning the basics, but he is learning a lot about life too.

“We learn how to manage money, how to manage investments, and a lot of different skills we will need not just on the job but in life,” Bradford said.

Bradford and his classmates are investing in their futures and helping the state fill a growing need for skilled industry workers. The Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance reports an estimated 86,000 jobs will be created in the next two years.

U.S. Senator David Vitter said the goal is to fill those jobs with locals.

“This is exactly the model we need to use and replicate around Louisiana,” Vitter said.

Mayor Harold Rideau, who helped lead efforts to open the center in Baker, said he knows firsthand the importance of having a firm foundation for a career in industry.

“I retired from Exxon-Mobil after 35.5 years. I did machinist millwright work. I did electrical work and pipe fitting,” Rideau said.

Future millwrights do not have to go far to get the skills they need.

“It's close to home, easy access, and the instructors are amazing people,” Bradford said.

With industry booming along the Mississippi River, chances are, they will find jobs closer to home too.

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