Feb 19, 2013 7:02 PM by MELISSA CANONE
LAFAYETTE, La. - Enrollment in Louisiana's community and technical colleges has more than tripled in the last decade and statewide campuses must continue to expand to meet current and future demands of local business and industry, said Dr. Joe May, Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) president.
Louisiana's community and technical colleges will be working with the state legislature to provide more than $240 million for 24 construction projects needed at 14 institutions statewide.
If funded, the "Facilities with a Purpose" plan will position technical and community colleges to more effectively respond to workforce needs from allied health to process technology.
"Industry needs to know that we can supply the highly skilled workforce that 21st century business must have to succeed," May said. "We have made progress, but we cannot stop here, however. Despite recent additions and renovations, we are still facing a major shortage of capacity on our campuses. We must continue to grow so that we can host relevant curriculum programs that will keep the pipeline of trained workers flowing to our employers."
Today in the Lafayette and South Louisiana region there are more than 4,820 available jobs in the health care filed. There is currently a waiting list for students interested in enrolling in health care programs such as Licensed Practical Nursing and Surgical Care Technology offered at SLCC.
To help bridge the health care workforce gap in this region, the Facilities with a Purpose plan includes a new Allied Health and Science Building for South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette. The proposed 60,000 sq. ft. building will host all allied health programs and will include a state of the art clinical lab and classrooms where students will be trained to become nurse assistants, pharmacy techs, practical nurses, surgical techs, registered nurses and other critical positions. The proposed cost of the building is $16,000,000 with a state share of $15,000,000 and a private match of* $1,000,000.
"Health care and allied health are top employers in the region and for us to ignore the growing demand for this field would not serve our community," said SLCC Chancellor Dr. Natalie Harder. "We've been out of space for more than six years, and we know that this is a field with tremendous current future demand."
The facility will also feature a wing for the Early College Academy in which high school students can dually enroll and potentially graduate with an associate's degree before the end of their senior year or earn college credit. SLCC is currently engaging in a successful dual enrollment program with local high schools. With interest by parents, students, and school districts, at an all-time high, SLCC is unable to accommodate new students in the Early College Academy as a result of limited space. A new facility will add classroom space allowing for program expansion.
"This is a highly effective way of capturing students early and increasing the number of college graduates in our community and ensuring they stay in school and pursue a path that will lead to stable employment," said Harder. "At South Louisiana Community College, we have only begun to scratch the surface on our programs, and we need more space to meet the demands of both the students and employers in our area."