Sep 24, 2013 21:21 Conference set on La. workforce issues Conference set on La. workforce issues Advocate staff report Sept. 24, 2013 Comments A statewide conference to address workforce issues in Louisiana is being held Oct. 30 in Lake Charles. The Council for a Better Louisiana, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Chamber Southwest Louisiana are hosting the event from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the L’Auberge Resort Conference Center at 777 Avenue L’Auberge in Lake Charles. The conference will focus on the workforce needs of employers, highlight state and local efforts to respond and seek solutions from private- and public-sector experts to ensure that Louisiana is prepared for an emerging economic boom. The Louisiana Workforce Commission expects employer demand for workers to increase by about 236,000 through 2020 in a variety of sectors. With job growth and the need to replace retiring workers, there will be more than 621,000 job openings through 2020. Louisiana is undergoing a major industrial and manufacturing expansion exceeding $60 billion in investments. Technology-based companies are hiring skilled programmers, software designers and computer scientists. Oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to increase. As a result of all the increased activity, the organizers said, companies making new investments in Louisiana are scrambling to assemble a trained workforce. Existing companies are concerned about retaining their experienced staff. The Workforce Commission and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System are gearing up to train workers, while universities are under pressure to produce more engineers and computer scientists. The conference will include a statewide economic overview; a business roundtable with executives focusing on private-sector workforce needs and ideas for addressing them; briefings by state leaders from the Workforce Commission, Louisiana Economic Development, BESE and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System; and a keynote address from David Chavern, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Registration is $65 per person. Table sponsorships with reserved seating are available for $1,500. The deadline is Oct. 23. Registration, information and the agenda are available online at www.allianceswla.org or by calling Lynette Clark of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance at (337) 433-3632.