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|Ready, skilled workforce key to growth|
The importance of workforce development – providing skilled workers for skilled jobs – was the topic at the Winnsboro-Franklin Chamber of Commerce regular meeting May 1.
Bob Hammack, director of the Delta Works program at Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe, told chamber members that without a skilled workforce, Northeast Louisiana would not attract high-paying industrial and technical jobs.
He said an automobile company wooed last fall to locate at Franklin Farms in Richland Parish never seriously considered the region because there were so few potential employees.
"The reason (why the company didn't locate here) was because we didn't have an available, skilled workforce," he said.
Hammack, 61, said when making decisions on future jobs, technical or community colleges should be considered as much as traditional colleges and universities because those trained in trades and skills can earn as much or more than those with four-year degrees.
"If I were 10 years younger, I'd take up welding," Hammack said. "Welders earn $50, sometimes $100 an hour."
Winnsboro, with Northeast Louisiana Technical College located here, and its proximity to Louisiana Delta College, has the opportunity to build for the future now, Hammack noted.
He recommended the community make strategic planning a priority and to begin setting up programs now, which will provide the labor force of the future with the skills demanded by industries with high-paying jobs.
He also said the Incumbent Worker Training Program provides an excellent opportunity for retraining or advanced training for existing workers.