Friday, June 20, 2014

Governor Jindal Signs Legislation to Create New Workforce Incentive Fund

Surrounded by higher education system leaders from across Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 1033 into action. The bill, introduced by La. Rep. Charles E. "Chuck" Kleckley (R-Lake Charles), will create the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, also known as the WISE Fund.Surrounded by higher education system leaders from across Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 1033 into action. The bill, introduced by La. Rep. Charles E. "Chuck" Kleckley (R-Lake Charles), will create the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, also known as the WISE fund.

Leaders from higher education systems across Louisiana joined Governor Bobby Jindal on Thursday to sign new legislation that will create a new higher education workforce incentive initiative and increase higher education funding by dedicating $40 million to better prepare Louisiana students to compete in the new global economy.

The bill, known as HB 1033 introduced by Representative Charles E. "Chuck" Kleckley (R-Lake Charles), will create the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, also known as the WISE fund. The legislation, which is included in the governor's 2014 legislative package, is part of an increase of more than $148 million for higher education included in the state budget for fiscal year 2015, a 6.91 percent increase from last year's funds.

"I am honored to sign this bill, which allows us to invest further in higher education and prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow," said Governor Jindal. "Our higher education institutions have already done an incredible job over the past six years instituting a number of reforms to help more of our students graduate. These results are a testament to the incredible work of our faculty and students at schools across Louisiana."

Money in the WISE fund will be provided directly to state research institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to state colleges and universities that partner with private industry to produce graduates with high-demand degrees and certificates. The program is designed to enable these institutions to link their coursework to industry needs and projected workforce demands.

"We are in the midst of an economic renaissance in Louisiana," Governor Jindal said. "Since 2008, we have announced economic development wins that are resulting in more than 80,000 new jobs and more than $50 billion in private capital investment. Because of these job wins, more people are employed than ever before in Louisiana," he said.

"Tens of thousands of jobs are now in the pipeline that must be filled, and our next challenge is to ensure we have the skilled workforce to fill these jobs of the future. Economists have recently said they have never seen an industrial expansion like the one under way in Louisiana, but have also warned that we must do a better job training skilled workers that will be needed to fill the demand for jobs at the major industrial and high tech projects coming to Louisiana," the governor said. "That's why our top priority is making sure we have the resources to prepare our students and train them for the jobs of the future."

Governor Jindal met with higher education leaders before the legislative session to discuss new jobs coming to Louisiana and they suggested with the idea for a workforce incentive fund, he said. The program is expected to reinvest new dollars to ensure Louisiana has the qualified workforce to take these jobs and "strengthen the critical linkage between college coursework and employment needs in Louisiana," he said in a statement.

On hand at the signing were higher education leaders from the University of Louisiana System, the Louisiana State University system, the Southern University System, Louisiana's Community and Technical Colleges and others.

"Today's signing of the WISE bill demonstrates an uncommon act of unity among leaders in this state who worked collaboratively to create a visionary strategy that will connect higher education to the emerging needs of Louisiana's new economy," said University of Louisiana System President Sandra K. Woodley. "We applaud the Governor and our legislative leaders for investing in this very important work."

Gov. Jindal said in a statement that economic development wins announced since 2008 are resulting in more than 80,000 new jobs and more than $50 billion in private capital investment. He said tens of thousands of jobs are in the pipeline, and their next challenge is to ensure that Louisiana has the skilled workforce to fill these jobs of the future.

Funds will be awarded using a performance-based formula that rewards and incentivizes educational institutions for degrees that have been shown by occupational forecasting and industry to be the most in demand and employable. To be eligible, the educational institution must have a private sector partner in industry willing to invest a 20 percent match in cash or in kind, providing technology and equipment.

Each institution will produce a business plan that demonstrates how they plan to invest the funds to reach the number of degrees the state needs to fill the jobs available now and in the next few years.

Governor Jindal said that experts used data-driven predictive modeling with actual numbers from business and industry to predict how many and what level of degrees are needed to meet workforce demands and every year, each institution will be held accountable for reaching their goals to produce those degrees, which include, among, others, computer science, engineering and accounting.

 

Read More

Governor Jindal Announces Funding Hike for Higher Education
Jindal Signs WISE Legislation,The Advocate
Jindal proposes increased funding to higher education, The Advocate
The UL System's Nine Universities Laud Governor Jindal's Support of the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Plan