Workforce Commission offering scholarships for students at new community college

Tommy Scott and Penelope Shumaker outside of the newly opened River Parishes Community College.

With River Parishes Community College opening its doors for on-campus learning for the first time last month at its brand new Boutte campus, it’s opened a world of new opportunities for St. Charles Parish residents.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission will do its part to ensure several prospective students can explore those opportunities in kind. The state agency helps connect job seekers with career tools and resources, and it will offer potential benefits for qualifying residents that could include covering partial or even full tuition to attend the school as result of a partnership with the college.

The idea behind the measure is to bring more people into the workforce, LWC director Tommy Scott said, particularly when unemployment is spiking nationwide.

“These are unprecedented times right now,” Scott said. “Unemployment benefits, for a lot of people, have been a bit of a lifesaver, but it’s not like full-time employment. We want to help people be less dependent on those benefits and help them achieve that potential to re-enter the workforce by creating an opportunity.”

Scott called the addition of the new campus “amazing,” particularly in light of one of the common problems that made college enrollment and attendance difficult for local residents: transportation, and now the Boutte campus couples with a campus in Reserve to cover a lot of ground for River Region residents – while allowing the latter to not have to cover quite so much of it on the road.

Another plus is the additional resources available now for employers and the LWC to upgrade training for prospective employees through the campus.

“With buy-in from certain employers, we can really customize training. Now, you have space to utilize with a computer lab, training centers … there are all sorts of areas you can impact here, and you can utilize space right here in St. Charles Parish,” he said. “We can really provide our residents with amazing workforce opportunities you don’t have in other areas. Having this campus in our area is an amazing opportunity we want to maximize to the fullest extent.”

Scott said initially, the hope is to be able to provide reimbursement or payments toward tuition, fees for books and, in some cases, to pay for all or at least part of qualifying students’ education at the new campus, with 20-30 students in all positively impacted through the benefits.

Those interested in applying for the assistance may do so by first visiting laworks.net and exploring the school’s curriculum to start devising a strategy. Following that, one may visit the LWC’s local office at 737 Paul Mallard Road to fill out an eligibility form and address any questions with staff. The office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“People come in and ask if we’re the unemployment office. We say, no, we’re the re-employment office,” Scott said. “We want to change the narrative of people just waiting for benefits. We’ve seen an uptick in individuals interested in training opportunities, potential short term opportunities that can lead to lucrative jobs as well.”

RPCC opened its doors for on-campus class for the first time on Jan. 19, following a semester of exclusively virtual learning. The campus is located at 13145 Hwy. 90. Construction on the campus was initially expected to be finished over the summer of 2020, but COVID-19 delayed the projected opening until now.

The site hosts 10 classrooms, two computer labs, student and faculty lounges and a meeting room.

The curriculum is expanded from what was offered in its online-only semester. Included among programs offered at the school are process technology, industrial instrumentation, general studies, social sciences, humanities, criminal justice, business, physical science and biological sciences. Plans to add a medical assistance program are in the plans for the fall, but per-requisite courses for it are available now.

Online, hybrid and face to face classes are available.

For information regarding admission and enrollment, call (985) 536-4418 or (225) 743-8500.

 

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