BRCC and ExxonMobil team up to tackle nationwide skilled labor shortage

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – There is a national shortage of skilled workers and the demand is increasing by the minute.

On Wednesday, January 19, Baton Rouge Community College and ExxonMobil hosted an open house to help people get into the field and meet growing needs.

The open house introduced people to the BRCC’s North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative (NBRITI). NBRITI offers training courses in welding, electricity, mechanical engineering and piping at no cost to qualified participants. Students participate in accelerated classroom and hands-on training, which also includes a life skills and workforce readiness component.

“Where I’m from, being in the environment that I was in, going through what I’ve been through, coming here and seeing this, we didn’t have that back then,” said Quentin Ransom, a Jobseeker.

Ransom was one of approximately 100 people who attended the open house. Ransom said he had just completed more than 16 years in prison and was doing temporary jobs just to make ends meet.

He said the opportunity created by the BRCC could change his life.

“Right now I’ve been sleeping in my car for 6 months, so I might be able to get an apartment for the first time in my life,” Ransom said.

Demand for workers has increased because of COVID, but experts said it was a problem long before the pandemic hit.

“In the industrial community, demand has never slowed down,” said Connie Fabre, president and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance.

Organizers said the aim was to train people as soon as possible.

“We are trying to make people aware of these opportunities, train them in BRCC, we have a free training program in these trades and make people pay,” said BRCC Vice Chancellor for Workforce Solutions, Dr. Girard Melancon.

Experts said one of the reasons for the shortage is that people simply don’t know about the opportunities available to them.

“People aren’t aware of the journey to occupation so that’s another reason why we wanted to have an in-person event, the companies are here to talk about this journey so it’s no longer a mystery” , said Melancon.

According to companies like ExxonMobil, the benefits of an open house are endless.

“It’s a win for the community, it’s a win for the individuals involved and it’s a win for us,” said David Oldreive, refinery manager at ExxonMobil Baton Rouge.

“It’s going to be a game changer. For real,” Ransom said.

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