LED FastStart Tops Workforce Training Program Rankings for 8th Year
13 Dec, 2017
Since launching in 2008, LED FastStart® has raised the bar and elevated expectations for what a best-in-class workforce program should look like. Training more than 26,000 workers for expanding Louisiana employers, and forging groundbreaking partnerships between educational institutions and private firms along the way, it hasn’t slowed down.
In July 2017, LED FastStart earned recognition from Business Facilities magazine as the No. 1 workforce development program in the country for the eighth consecutive year. The publication lauded FastStart’s ability to adapt to rapidly changing fields that are increasingly driven by technology, as well as its role in fortifying Louisiana’s long-term workforce pipeline through public-private apprenticeship programs.
“Winning top honors over eight consecutive years is an unprecedented feat among workforce development programs,” says LED FastStart Executive Director Paul Helton, “especially as other states continue to find new approaches. But the secret to our success isn’t a secret. It’s a matter of execution and customer satisfaction.”
Embedded in FastStart’s culture is the belief that it should operate with the same urgency as the corporate clients it serves, says Helton. That means delivering products on time and with a higher level of creativity and innovation than commonly associated with the public sector.
FastStart customizes workforce recruitment, screening and training programs for new and expanding companies that meet a threshold for investment and job growth in Louisiana. FastStart’s team engages early to pinpoint a company’s workforce needs, from the qualifications of its job applicants to the essential training each must achieve to fulfill their job functions.
Helton says that FastStart also distances itself from competitors by the way it defines success.
“A lot of programs evaluate their effectiveness by the number of workers trained, or the hours of training they have facilitated,” Helton says. “Our only success measure is to ask our customers, ‘Are you satisfied?’ and ‘Does what we’ve done translate into results for your company?'”
The program’s ability to alleviate workforce concerns for expanding employers has been a key factor in Louisiana’s successful attraction of billions of dollars in new investment.
“We met with many private business owners throughout Shreveport-Bossier, and we learned firsthand of the outstanding workforce that is available – people who take pride in their work,” says Ron Sedley, owner of consumer packaging manufacturer, Ronpak. “We were equally impressed with the training program that is available through LED FastStart. It was key to having a great workforce that would be well-trained from the start."
Many state workforce development programs around the country were born because of the need for trained workers in the automobile manufacturing industry. Workforce development programs produced singular training modules that were delivered only after several employees were hired. Today, that is no longer the case. Advanced manufacturing and other sectors need to train individual team members the moment they’re hired. FastStart anticipated this kind of evolving need, and has the capability of producing on-demand training modules. That often means creating mobile device training programs that are tailored to a variety of positions.
For example, FastStart has developed training modules for the rapidly expanding restaurant delivery company, Waitr.
“There’s no way a company like Waitr is going to be able to train all of its new employees in one room, so we’re doing a lot of mobile device training for every level of employee, from program engineers to drivers,” says Helton. “That includes things like policies, procedures, down to delivery etiquette and safety.”
Investing In Louisiana’s Future Workforce
FastStart has also formed partnerships with two- and four-year colleges to develop curricula and job-site training directly related to an employer’s current and future needs. While these programs directly serve large manufacturing sites with specific needs, they have the capacity to serve other companies that choose to invest in Louisiana.
Moreover, FastStart is fueling a notable apprenticeship movement. Companies that produce job creation targets can take advantage of the program, which uses public funds for training community and technical college students while they also take classes.
FastStart also has helped to create a high school-based certification program in manufacturing that is currently deployed at 35 Louisiana high schools. A similar certificate, known as C4M, can be attained in a single, intensive semester of study at community and technical colleges in Louisiana.
“Success in building a workforce development program depends on our ability to expand the number of workers who fill the jobs of the future,” Helton says. “Companies really see the value in participating in these programs.”