- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - College leaders say a proposed fund to reward colleges and universities that produce graduates who fill high-demand jobs could help attract faculty to train the needed workers in the Acadiana area.

South Louisiana Community College Chancellor Natalie Harder told the Acadiana Press Club on Monday getting experts to leave their fields where they can earn more money in the workplace than they can teaching their profession is an obstacle to meeting workforce demands.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1iW8XCH ) the proposed $40 million fund would be used by colleges and universities in programs that supply workers in high-growth fields such as engineering, finance and accounting, computer science, data analysis, industrial production and construction crafts.

The $40 million fund has been dubbed the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy plan.

The plan received the support of Gov. Bobby Jindal last month when he announced it as part of a $142 million funding increase proposed for higher education next year. If approved by lawmakers, it would be the first increase for colleges and universities in the past six years, though $88 million of the boosted funding is from increased student tuition costs.

As part of the WISE plan proposal, colleges and universities would compete for a share of the $40 million based on their numbers of graduates in high-demand fields and their research.

The colleges and universities must match up to 20 percent of their WISE plan funding with private donations.

The WISE plan provides targeted funding to take care of growing workforce shortages that exist statewide, University of Louisiana system President Sandra Woodley said.

“This gives us the first stepping stone to have an organized, strategized (way) of closing the gap,” Woodley said.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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