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How Entergy’s $5 Million Workforce Development Initiative Is Fueling Job Creation

By Patty Riddlebarger, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Entergy Corporation

Posted March 11, 2019 in Economic Development

When DXC Technology announced in 2017 that it would create 2,000 jobs in global IT in New Orleans, U.S. News  & World Report featured the relocation deal in “New Orleans: Silicon Valley of the South?”.

The publicity for DXC’s relocation highlighted many benefits of our business-friendly region. And for those familiar with DXC’s site location process, it was also proof of success for the New Orleans nonprofit Operation Spark, which played a role in DXC’s decision as well as the recent relocation to New Orleans of major tech company Accruent.

Operation Spark is one of 26 organizations Entergy has supported with grants from our workforce development initiative launched in 2016. Through the initiative, Entergy made a commitment to invest $5 million over five years in local workforce readiness programs across our service areas in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy’s vision is “We Power Life,” and that means much more than just keeping the lights on. It also means investing in our communities through programs like our workforce development initiative.

Entergy’s workforce training grant recipients are selected to help local communities target specific high-growth industries ranging from petrochem processing to advanced manufacturing to software design/engineering to healthcare.

Since the launch of our workforce development initiative, 87 company have located within Entergy’s footprint resulting in almost 10,000 permanent new jobs.

Entergy’s partnership with local government, corporate and civic leaders gives site relocation teams confidence that communities in our service territory will meet their needs for a skilled and ready workforce both short- and long-term.

Operation Spark is an excellent example of the type of organizations selected to receive grants through our program. These organizations were chosen because they have proven track records of delivering specific outcomes that address the targeted workforce needs for their individual communities – for example, certified welders, process technicians, or software design engineers.

The software engineering immersion program conducted by Operation Spark teaches students how to think like a software engineer, build production-grade web applications and use a broad array of computer programming tools.

In 2017, this one organization graduated more software developers in New Orleans than all of the other local colleges and universities combined. Their graduates have 100 percent job placement in jobs with salaries ranging from $60,000 to $80,000.

Workforce Development Initiative: Who and How

Some of the grants made through Entergy’s workforce initiative are for programs that award individual scholarships, while others may impact hundreds or even thousands of students annually. Some programs immediately impact the workforce while others help to ensure a pipeline of future talent. This is why our program has a two-pronged structure:

High school students attending Entergy’s C4M Summer Institute earn college credit and certifications in construction and advanced manufacturing.

1. Industry-specific Workforce Training grants improve the quality of the workforce talent pool by increasing the number of certified workers trained in high-growth, high-wage industries. The programs target adults, with an emphasis on unemployed or underemployed individuals. They recruit, train and graduate workers who have nationally or regionally recognized industry certifications and/or associates degrees in target industries.

These certifications vary, depending on the needs of existing and potential employers. They can include but aren’t limited to C4M (certification for manufacturing), AM (advanced manufacturing), NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research), PTech (process technology) and A&P (airframe and power plant).

2. School-to-career Readiness grants fund and support programs that improve the quality of the workforce talent pipeline targeting youth between the ages of 14 and 25, with an emphasis on at-risk, unemployed or underemployed individuals. These programs focus on increasing high school graduation rates and ensuring that students are career and/or college ready when they graduate.

Grant Recipients

 Entergy’s workforce development initiative has two phases of grantmaking, each representing $2.5 million. We’re in the process of making phase two grants across our four-state region. To date, these organizations have received grants:

Industry-Specific Workforce Training Grantees

School-to-Career Readiness Grantees

Teach for America – TFA Teachers’ Intensive Reading Instruction for K-12 students/TFA Alumni Student Learning & Innovation Pilot (Mississippi)

It’s exciting to see such a far-reaching program with so many stakeholders coming together to strengthen our workforce. The workforce development initiative is helping our communities and people thrive. That’s what “We Power Life” is all about.

Key Industries

Advanced Materials, Agribusiness, Automotive Manufacturing, Chemical Products, Data Centers, Distribution and Warehousing, Energy Services & Manufacturing, Food Processing, Metal Fabrication, Primary Metals, Wood and Paper Products