Southern University’s Shreveport campus offers a unique opportunity for students to get hands-on training for jobs in the aerospace industry. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana Economic Development)
Companies in need of quick workforce solutions need look no further than Louisiana, where Louisiana Economic Development’s LED FastStart® is a game changer in training, talent attraction, and workforce development. After all, it’s an award-winning custom solution provider with screening, training, and recruiting programs that are always tailored to meet the needs of qualified businesses.
The recognition and awards aren’t just given, they’re earned. LED FastStart uses best-in-class tech to pair companies with eager workers across Louisiana. All the while, higher-ed institutions and non-profit partners are training Louisiana’s bright, young minds so that they can jump directly from the graduation stage to opening the door for their first professional jobs. And it’s no one-trick pony: LED FastStart impacts industries from advanced manufacturing and aerospace, to tech, energy and infrastructure.
Modern Hiring and Recruitment Solutions
LED FastStart Recruiting is the newest tool that connects Louisiana employees and employers. The online application platform gives job seekers a personalized experience that uses the latest AI technology – guiding them through the site, making recommendations and assisting with the application process.
Users search by job position, category, company and/or region within Louisiana and sign-up for customized job alerts, notifications of new career opportunities, expansion announcements, and hiring events. They can also have their LinkedIn account and résumé uploaded to assist companies assessing their next employees. FastStart clients also benefit from having their own unique landing pages, customized with vivid content about their company.
The web-based job application platform adds to another hot online trend: virtual career fairs.
There’s no need to fight traffic, find a place to park, or navigate through a crowd – virtual career fairs offer an easier way for job seekers to chat with potential employers. A necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, LED FastStart quickly jumped to facilitate virtual events for more than a dozen companies hiring in Louisiana – and continues to do so.
Job seekers pre-register to explore details about the companies that are hiring and what they are looking for. During the event itself, candidates can jump from one virtual booth to another to visit with representatives of each company about opportunities.
Tech companies in Louisiana were among the first to adopt virtual career fairs, unsurprising given the nature of these events and the fact that the state’s booming tech industry is routinely looking for top talent. Participants included DXC Technologies, Globalstar, IBM, and newcomer SchoolMint, an EdTech developer that planted its headquarters in Lafayette after relocating from San Francisco.
LED FastStart’s innovative use of technology is a trend, and there’s another tech project on the horizon that’s designed to have the flexibility needed to respond to the ever-changing workforce demands of tomorrow. The LED FastStart Technology Center will offer augmented reality and virtual reality stations, production suites, and everything needed to produce customized training assets.
Igniting Louisiana’s Workforce through Higher-Ed Partnerships
LED FastStart works with Louisiana’s universities and community and technical colleges to continuously build a workforce that can make an impact across a diverse array of industries. Aerospace, advanced manufacturing, tech and software development companies are just a few of the beneficiaries of LED FastStart’s higher-ed partnerships.
Artemis, Greek mythology’s sister to Apollo, is the tag given to NASA’s next space mission that will bring astronauts, including the first women, to the moon by 2024. The core stage components of the Space Launch System rocket program are being made at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans with the assistance of graduates from nearby Nunez Community College.
LED FastStart designed the Aerospace Manufacturing Technology Program at Nunez after traveling to other schools with aerospace programs and assessing the types of equipment, facilities, and curriculum needed. Through the program, Nunez graduates have a chance to make an impact on NASA space missions and other tenants of the MAF campus, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, as well as provide additional opportunities for the influx of skilled workers.
LED FastStart’s higher-ed partnerships aren’t limited to rocket engineering. The continuing rise of Louisiana’s tech workforce is a major focus for the program.
At Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, FastStart keyed the Workforce Talent Initiative (WTI) with the university’s College of Science and Technology. The program helps build Louisiana’s tech workforce with skilled, well-trained, and industrious graduates who are ready to work on day one.
FastStart initially designed WTI’s curriculum and provided support for its launch, but their involvement didn’t stop there. Added and ongoing components range from career fairs, tutoring, a lecture series featuring tech leaders and subject-matter experts, to workshops in resume writing, interviewing skills, and professionalism.
A few clicks west on Interstate 110 in Baton Rouge sees a new tech-related platform at Louisiana State University called MicroCreds, short for micro-credentials. Don’t be fooled by the word “micro” – the program is not small. Instead, the use of the word is akin to a shortened version of a college course. These abridged classes provide in-depth training in specialized topics to offer skills and knowledge for professionals looking to change careers or earn promotions.
Commitment to Diversity
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were founded on the belief that every individual deserves access to higher education. LED FastStart is providing key support to Louisiana’s HBCUs to expand such access statewide, as well as increasing the diversity of the workforce in growing sectors like tech and aerospace.
LED FastStart works in partnership with Louisiana’s six HBCUs to promote and expand the implementation of digital technology on campuses, align curriculum with tech industry and STEM priorities, and build relationships between higher-ed institutions and leading tech companies.
LED’s Higher Education Economic Development Playbook guides the collaborative process between LED FastStart and individual higher-ed institutions. Through its role with the state’s HBCU Advisory Council, LED is implementing the playbook at Louisiana HBCUs with a focus on expanding and enhancing industry-relevant STEM programs.
LED FastStart and the HBCU Advisory Council’s next steps are focused on identifying advocates in business and industry for work-based learning initiatives. They’re also working to help connect hiring practices focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Nuts and Bolts of Led Faststart
Since its inception in 2008, LED FastStart has delivered roughly a half-million hours of training to more than 32,000 employees and over 230 companies in Louisiana.
While LED FastStart is an incentive, it’s designed as an investment. In order for new and expanding companies to qualify, they must agree to create a certain number of new jobs.
“With LED FastStart, Louisiana continues to define what the future of workforce training should be,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said.
Top: The LED FastStart Technology Center will offer augmented reality and virtual reality stations, production suites, and everything needed to produce customized training assets. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana Economic Development)
Bottom: Nunez Community College graduates are helping manufacture rockets for NASA’s next space mission that will bring astronauts, and the first women, to the moon by 2024. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana Economic Development).