POSTED: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 8:30am
UPDATED: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 8:34am
Baton Rouge, La — The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) announced today that the organization will support the merger of the Baton Rouge, Folkes, Jumonville, and Westside campuses of Capital Area Technical College (CATC) with Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC). The unification of the two systems will create a funding stream for higher-cost career and technical education (CTE) programs by enabling BRCC to move revenue over from lower-cost programs. The merger will be a step in furthering the efforts of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) to respond to the state’s continuing need for industrial construction and skilled craft labor. The regular session of the legislature convenes on Monday, April 8, 2013 and adjourns on or before Thursday, June 6, 2013.
"The Baton Rouge area continues to have a strong need for skilled labor. It is imperative that the education systems in the region provide this training to avoid a workforce gap in upcoming years,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “In order for the colleges in our region to do this, they must work together as one unified system with the necessary funding and resources."
The merger of the two systems is a response to workforce and economic needs. Currently, the cost for technical programs exceeds tuition and fees, requiring a shift of dollars from lower-cost programs to CTE programs to cover the gap. CATC, however, is a CTE-centric school that does not offer lower-cost programs such as liberal arts. Instead, CATC relies on BRCC to offer those programs on the CATC campus, for which CATC receives no part of the tuition and fees collected. CATC therefore has no way to fill the gap left between the cost of CTE programs and the tuition and fees.
"A merger between BRCC and CATC will allow our system to react more efficiently and appropriately to economic development and workforce needs in the region," said Andrea Lewis Miller, chancellor at Baton Rouge Community College. "A unified system allows for the allocation of resources to accommodate for the changes and needs identified by businesses and industry."
The Louisiana Workforce Investment Council recently released data showing a need for 35,000 workers in the construction sector between 2012 and 2016. These projected jobs are spurred by newly announced projects, low cost natural gas prices, and successful economic development efforts. The research projects 11 percent growth in construction employment in 2013 and nearly 13 percent growth in 2014. CTE programs, like those available currently at CATC, provide the training necessary to take advantage of the available careers in industrial construction and other skilled craft, and the merger with BRCC will assure that these programs continue to be available.
During the upcoming session, BRAC will also support efforts to secure a dedicated revenue stream for Pennington Biomedical Research Center and increase Tier 1 funding to allow for the marketing of our region nationally. Additionally, the organization will support the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority in their efforts to tackle crime through the reduction of blighted and adjudicated properties.
Earlier this week, BRAC announced that the organization will support reforms in higher education that return control over tuition and fees to higher education management boards and teacher tenure reform in the K-12 education system. BRAC will also support other proposed higher education bills during the session that call for differentiated tuition and tuition per credit hour. Within the proposed K-12 education reforms, BRAC will support superintendent autonomy and reduction in force policies.