St. Landry celebrates American Job Center opening

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Main News Photo

“People who are in need of jobs, from building a resume to interviewing and securing a job, now have one place to appreciate the quality of services they are in need of,” according to Brenda Hubbard-Thomas, executive director of the Acadiana Region of Local Workforce Development Area 40. 


A newly opened “one-stop” workforce office in Opelousas will serve as a model for the rest of the state in the best way to help to people find and keep a good job and as an important tool for employers who need trained, skilled workers.   

In the view of St. Landry Parish President, Bill Fontenot, Louisiana’s first American Job Center also demonstrates how leaders from across Acadiana worked together to put the needs of people first.

Shannon Joseph, director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said the center in the Community Action Agency building, 1065 Hwy. 749, is the first such job center in Acadiana and the state.

It will bring together more than a dozen agencies offering aid to people seeking employment or, employers looking for a skilled worker, and will be able to accommodate people with disabilities, veterans, older workers, and people who need help in enrolling in the community and four-year college system. It can also help build apprenticeship programs, provide business service opportunities for employers, help those seeking adult education, and “many more valuable incentives,” she said.

“People who are in need of jobs, from building a resume to interviewing and securing a job, now have one place to appreciate the quality of services they are in need of,” according to Brenda Hubbard-Thomas, executive director of the Acadiana Region of Local Workforce Development Area 40. 

Hubbard-Thomas said bringing together multiple agencies under one roof has been “the work of many hands,” and the idea of such a facility can be traced back nearly four decades to, Donald Robinson, former director of the Community Action Agency and Chris Dunbar, administrator of the job training programs. 

“Today, we pay tribute to an outstanding team of individuals, determined to help make a positive difference for others. This is the start of something that will greatly benefit the people of our region for years to come,” she said.

Fontenot is Chief Elected Official of the eight-parish workforce district and St. Landry Parish president.  St. Landry parish government will be the administrative entity for the center.  The workforce development board of directors comprised of private and public leaders in Acadiana workforce area #40 is led by Patrick Fontenot.

Bill Fontenot said he welcomes the opportunities the American Job Center will bring to St. Landry Parish and the Acadiana region.

“The idea of integration of services has included numerous meetings and countless hours, as well as some anxiety,” he said. The main objective will be directing people to places where they can get job skills and help to find the means to take advantage of them.

“It’s going to bring services to our region, help identify and train the many qualified workers we have here,” the parish presidnet said.

In addition to St. Landry, Local Workforce Development Area 40 includes Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St, Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion Parishes. Presidents of each parish provide oversight and guidance in collaboration with the board of directors to oversee program funds.

Cortney Boutte-Breaux, Operations Manager, said staff are available to assist individuals in making an informed decision regarding a successful career pathway by reviewing labor market information. Career development staff also provide information on post-secondary education training opportunities that align with current labor market demand. Funding is available to individuals meeting the eligibility requirements who are interested in furthering their opportunities and/or improving their quality of life.

Bill Rodier, Economic Development Director in St. Landry parish, noted that this “is the first time that anything like this has been tried statewide, combining so many services to help train workers for an entire region.

The workforce development director, team members and partners work with Rodier and other economic development agencies to identify potential employees for new businesses and to provide job-specific training for them.

Additionally, Kirsten Thomas, CAA Director, will assist individuals with additional program assistance administered by the Community Action Agency. Hubbard-Thomas said the American Job Center presents the opportunity “to leverage our work and the work of other agencies.”

That has been one of the goals of the CAA for many years, according to former director Robinson. He said that since the 1960s the St. Landry CAA office has provided assistance of various kinds to about 6,000 families.

Now members of those families have a place where they can get the help and training they need to find meaningful and satisfying employment, he said.

Three things to know about this story:

  1. The center will bring together more than a dozen agencies offering aid to people seeking employment or, employers looking for a skilled worker,
  2. It will be able to accommodate people with disabilities, veterans, older workers, and people who need help in enrolling in the community and four-year college system.
  3. It can also help build apprenticeship programs, provide business service opportunities for employers, help those seeking adult education.

 

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