Louisiana Governor Signs Workforce Training Legislation Creating WISE Fund

With leaders of all the major Louisiana higher education systems present, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law HB 1033, a workforce training bill which creates a $40 million workforce incentive fund.

Louisiana WISE Fund bill signing

Louisiana WISE Fund bill signing (photo – lsu.edu)

The WISE (Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy) Fund dedicates $40 million to be made available to state research institutions, colleges and universities, enabling them to link their coursework with industry needs and projected workforce demands.

WISE funding will be available to state research institutions that produce commercial research which is nationally recognized, and to state colleges and universities that partner with the private sector to produce graduates with degrees and certifications that are in high demand.

The allocation of funds will be made using a performance-based formula to reward and incentivize degrees which are the most employable and in demand. All applying institutions must be partners with private industry and be able to come up with at least a 20 percent private match in cash or in kind in the form of technology, equipment, etc.

Each applicant will have to submit a business plan which lays out how they plan to use the funds to increase the number of degrees needed to fill existing jobs and those that need to be filled in the next few years.

Data driven modeling using numbers from industry will be used to figure out how many and what kind of degrees are needed to meet workforce demands.

Gov. Jindal said that the collaboration between Louisiana Economic Development, higher education leaders and the Louisiana Workforce Commission has created a targeted investment strategy for spending dollars on the degrees needed to fill the jobs that are coming to Louisiana.

“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 Gov. Jindal.

The Governor noted that since 2008, Louisiana economic development wins resulting in more than $50 billion in private investment and 80,000 new jobs have been announced, because of which more people than ever before are now employed in the state.

Gov. Jindal added that tens of thousands of jobs are now in the pipeline, and the next challenge is to ensure that there is a skilled workforce to fill these jobs of the future.

LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander said the WISE bill represents more than just historic cooperation between the state government, higher education and the industry. He said it represents opportunity – an opportunity for the state to keep talented young people, and for students to have a job waiting for them when they graduate.

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