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2013 September 16 - 12:00 am

POLITICS AND POLICY: La. Chancellor Calls for Help from Businesses

NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) — South Louisiana Community College wants to work with communities to respond to workforce needs, but financial help is needed from industry to train workers, SLCC Chancellor Natalie Harder says.

Harder spoke to a group at the college’s New Iberia campus, part of a series of meeting she plans throughout Acadiana.

Harder told the group the college can add to its existing programs and meet demands for new training, but not without financial assistance from industry.

“We can’t do it without private sector help anymore,” Harder said.

The chancellor said the college has been in talks with companies in Iberia Parish to help them with growth needs.

“Companies need to know that there’s going to be a workforce for them today, tomorrow and into the future,” Harder said.

The college recently announced a new program in which students can earn an associate degree in registered nursing. The program will start in the fall at the Lafayette campus.

Harder said the college received seed funding for the program from Lafayette hospitals.

“It would not be a huge deal to grow that program to other parishes, but we need help to do that. We need private sector help,” Harder said.

Harder said it would cost about $60,000 per faculty member annually to operate the program.

The training community colleges provide is critical, said Mike Morris, director of Acadiana Works Inc., a nonprofit workforce investment group.

While Iberia Parish’s unemployment rate is low, welders, machinists and health care workers are in demand, Morris said.

“We can’t make enough welders and fitters,” he said.

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