(JEFFERSON PARISH, La) — The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) and Jefferson Parish School System (JP Schools) teamed up during National Manufacturing Week to provide a multi-day, hands on educational experience designed to connect students to skilled career options in the advanced manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing Week, which runs from October 6-October 13, 2023, was designed to elevate the contributions of local manufacturers while also exposing the next generation of workers to the high-paying, high impact careers available in this industry. Manufacturing is one of Greater New Orleans’ top sectors, providing thousands of jobs to people throughout the region. In Jefferson Parish, there are nearly 400 manufacturers offering an average salary of over $83,000 annually. Many of these companies manufacture products that are used both locally and on a global scale.
JEDCO and JP Schools kicked off Manufacturing Week activities Wednesday morning at Delgado River City & Advanced Manufacturing Campus in Churchill Park. Hosted to engage with teachers, high school principals, school administrators, parents, and business leaders, the Manufacturing Week Kickoff Event promoted the important work being done by educational and economic development leaders to support one of the region’s most impactful industries. Speakers included Dr. Arlanda Williams (Delgado Community College), Dr. James Gray (JP Schools), Josh Tatum (Greater New Orleans, Inc.), and Jerry Bologna (JEDCO). Discussions around curricula tailored to the manufacturing industry’s needs, apprenticeships, and partnerships were followed by a tour of the Delgado River City campus.
On Thursday and Friday, fifty selected eleventh graders from Fisher Middle-High School, L.W. Higgins High School, and West Jefferson High School toured four local manufacturing facilities. During these tours, the juniors connected with manufacturing professionals and were introduced to a variety of industry options and career pathways. Participating manufacturers included Carpenter and Patterson, Gulf Wind Technology, Alfred Conhagen, and Laitram.
Nationwide, manufacturers continue to face workforce development and talent recruitment challenges. JEDCO, JP Schools, and many local partners have prioritized innovative programs and outreach that train talent, incentivize young people to consider manufacturing careers, and support Jefferson Parish’s workforce pipeline.
“Workforce development is a core tenet of JEDCO’s economic development strategy. Our team has worked hard to provide innovative, collaborative solutions to the talent recruitment challenges our manufacturers are experiencing,” said JEDCO President & CEO Jerry Bologna. “We are proud to host these Manufacturing Week events alongside educational and industry partners to communicate the benefit of manufacturing careers to our young people. Their skills and talent will help drive the future of the Jefferson Parish economy.”
JP Schools has partnered with local and regional businesses and post-secondary institutions (training facilities and colleges) to expose students to industries that offer high wage and high demand career opportunities. This training is through the district’s Fast Forward program. Fast Forward is an initiative for all students and is specific to the Southeast Louisiana region. Each Fast Forward pathway has two tracks – one for TOPS UNIVERSITY and one for TOPS TECH, and each outlines a course progression for students to earn either an associate degree, a technical degree certificate, or an internship/registered apprenticeship.
“Our students’ success is only possible because of our collaboration with others, including Delgado, JEDCO, and our various higher education and workforce partners,” said Dr. James Gray, Superintendent of Jefferson Parish Schools. “Our goal is that when our students leave us, they are successful and productive citizens who want to stay in Jefferson Parish. Today’s event highlights the importance of manufacturing and other regional emerging sectors that will help our students fast track their career path to high-demand, high-wage jobs and support our local businesses and economy with a skilled workforce.”
About JP Schools: Jefferson Parish Schools is a public system of 81 schools. The school system serves students on both banks of the Mississippi River. JP Schools is the largest district in Louisiana and the nation’s 98th largest. With approximately 6,400 employees, JP Schools is one of the largest employers in Jefferson Parish. Learn more at jpschools.org