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Date:June 23, 2008
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Workforce Bill Clears Legislature, Heads to Governor for Signature

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Jindal’s centerpiece bill to reform Louisiana’s workforce development system won final Legislative approval today and now heads to the governor for his signature.

The bill, HB 1104, requires the Louisiana Department of Labor to integrate workforce development programs from across state agencies into a single, demand-driven system that meets the needs of businesses and job seekers into the future.

“I would like to thank Gov. Jindal and his staff, labor and industry representatives and every member of the legislature for their commitment to solving Louisiana’s workforce issues,” Louisiana Department of Labor Secretary Tim Barfield said. “The passage of this legislation sends a strong signal that everyone involved in workforce development in Louisiana is ready for change. The integration called for in the bill, which we have already begun to implement, will allow us to more readily meet the needs of employers and job seekers.”

Under the bill, the Department of Labor will become the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Barfield’s title will become executive director. He will remain a member of the governor’s cabinet. The commission will continue to carry out existing Dept. of Labor functions, such as administering the unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems, in addition to taking on the expanded role in workforce development.

The workforce bill is one of a package of bills that make up Gov. Jindal’s priority for this legislative session. The companion measures strengthen the role of community and technical colleges in workforce development, address funding for worker training in high-demand sectors and improve the state’s ability to quickly respond to urgent economic development opportunities and challenges.

“By working closely with our partner agencies and other stakeholders, we can do a much better job of aligning the supply of trained workers with job vacancies and ramp up our efforts to fill the nearly 100,000 jobs that businesses can’t fill today,” Barfield said. “By building the system envisioned in Gov. Jindal’s workforce development legislative package, we can provide a workforce that is ready to meet any economic development opportunity or challenge.”

Business and industry will have an expanded role in making the new workforce development system more demand driven. The agency will begin its business outreach and engagement as the Louisiana Workforce Commission in September.

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