From chemicals and oil and gas, to food, paper and wood products, Louisiana’s manufacturing sector has long been a robust part of the state economy. Manufacturing Week 2020, which takes place nationwide September 27 to October 3, elevates the sector and invites job seekers to take a closer look at a future career. Governor John Bel Edwards has signed a proclamation bringing attention to the importance of manufacturing in Louisiana and the ways that students can gain the skills required to enter the field.
In Louisiana, 136,000 men and women work in manufacturing jobs, with a total annual output of about $49 billion. Companies like Shintech, Noranda Alumina, RoyOMartin, Benteler Tube and Steel, Sasol and many others have helped Louisiana become one of the country’s manufacturing epicenters. By 2025, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be available in the U.S., according to the Manufacturing Institute. The sector offers some of the highest combined salary and benefits of any industry in the country.
The goal of Manufacturing Week, say organizers, is to invite the public to reimagine what a career in the field is really like, and to encourage young people to consider future employment. Old stereotypes of inspecting widgets on a line are a far cry from modern manufacturing, which is all about dreaming up and creating products that solve problems and make life easier. Manufacturing facilities use high tech equipment and rely on sophisticated training and teamwork to meet production goals. One of the most promising aspects of the field for job seekers, is that entry level positions don’t usually require a four-year degree.
In 2019, 5,912 Louisiana students participated in 145 Manufacturing Week events held with employers or educational institutions around the state, including VIP tours of facilities and information sessions at community and technical colleges. While the Covid-19 pandemic has shuttered face-to-face Manufacturing Week activities in 2020, there’s still plenty to celebrate, including Louisiana’s Certification for Manufacturing Program, or C4M, a gateway program for high school and college students to gain the skills required to enter a manufacturing career.
The Certification for Manufacturing Program connects high school and college students with companies that need workers with entry level skills. The program takes place on several high school and community college campuses, and was developed by LED FastStart in partnership with statewide employers.
C4M students complete four courses that prepare them for entry level work and give them a jumpstart on an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Courses include: introduction to manufacturing and its processes; tools and equipment; automation; and introduction to fabrication, process technology and machining. The courses take place both in the classroom and laboratory.
Upon completion of the courses and a final assessment, students earn the C4M Certification, enabling them to gain entry level employment with companies that have openings and to apply credit hours toward an Associate of Science degree or a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology.
It’s a win-win for students and employers.
Check out Louisiana Job Connection to discover manufacturing jobs open in your area.