The DRA has initiated a $208,000 investment, coordinated through NOVA (New Opportunities, Vision and Achievement) Workforce Institute of Northeast Louisiana, Inc., to create and expand job training and employment-related education across the region.
The investment comes as the region has faced a two-fold economic challenge: first, the 2008 Five-Year Regional Development Plan by the State of Louisiana, facilitated by DRA, found that more than 95,000 job slots in Louisiana were vacant because the state lacks qualified workers to fill them; and second, a series of major employers, including The Guide Corporation Plant, have shut their doors.
The NOVA project, which will serve workers in Ouachita, East Carroll, Madison, Richland, Tensas and Morehouse parishes, will help:
Place graduates in living-wage jobs with benefits in the Delta Region;
Create specific job training programs to prepare workers for immediate job openings;
Provide job-readiness training, in such areas as interviewing and financial and time management, to advance the skill sets of our graduates who seek to fill these positions;
Provide the necessary skills and education to a currently low-skill workforce; and
Develop and expand relationships with Delta-region employers and educational institutions in order to identify and fill living-wage jobs for graduates.
To date, NOVA participants have a completion rate of 80 percent and a post-program average hourly wage of $12. This translates into more than $4 million in projected wage impact across northeast Louisiana.
"Investments into our people - helping them develop new, necessary skills and find good-paying jobs - are the best investments we can make," Chairman Chris Masingill said. "NOVA is on the frontline of this investment providing essential job training skills. Together, we are going to boost our workforce, encourage businesses to invest in our communities, and deliver the kind of hope our people want and need."
"It's an economic boost to our region," NOVA Executive Director Paul E. West said. "The DRA Partnership allows us to expand our services to the residents of Northeast Louisiana while helping to meet the workforce needs of business and industry."