Training Wheels – Out to Lunch – It’s Baton Rouge
One of the biggest challenges in Louisiana is a lack of skilled workers in the technical trades. Companies complain about it all the time. And yet, many young people will tell you they can’t find a good paying job, which is a reason so many of them leave after high school. For the past several years, the business community in south Louisiana has been focused on this dynamic. On this edition of Out to LUnch, Stephanie Riegel uncovers some promising developments in correcting this trend.
Stephen Toups is Executive Vice President of Turner Industries, one of the largest and most successful industrial construction firms in Baton Rouge. Turner Industries was founded in 1961, and builds and maintains services in the heavy industrial sector. It has locations across the Gulf Coast, more than 11-thousand employees in the Baton Rouge area alone (over 20,000 in total) and more than $3 billion in gross revenues. Stephen has been at the company for more than 20 years. His dad, Roland Toups, leads the company as CEO and chairman. Stephen is also active in the community in business and civic organizations, and is particularly involved in the effort to help train workers —not only for the area’s many expanding chemical plants and industrial construction firms, like his, but also in the computers sciences and med tech.
Summer Dann is Executive Director of the East Baton Rouge Career and Technical Education Center, which opens in the fall on the campus of the Ardendale urban village in Melrose East. CTEC is one of the most exciting things happening in Baton Rouge, with the potential to affect real change by offering high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn a diploma from their regular high school while also receiving workforce training and industry certification in high-demand fields that need skilled workers. Summer is getting this dual enrollment academy off the ground: building programs, hiring faculty, figuring out how to make it all come together. She comes to the position from ITI Technical College, where she was dean of students for many years.
Baton Rouge doesn’t appear at the top of many lists. But it’s in the vanguard of workforce change with the advent of the cooperation of the education system, private industry, and government to bring about real worforce change and manufacturing growth.