Demand for contract labor up

New projects, maintenance and turnarounds will push contract labor demand at Capital Region chemical and petrochemical plants to a peak of more than 30,000 people in late 2014, according to The Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance Inc.’s Semi-Annual Contract Labor Forecast.

The report, released Wednesday and issued twice a year, is designed to help education providers and industry recruit skilled workers.

The survey shows the top industrial crafts in demand are welders, instrument and electrical technicians, pipefitters, millwrights, and scaffold builders and other “soft crafts” such as insulators and carpenters, said Connie Fabre, executive director of the alliance. Process technicians and laborers are also in high demand; BASF recently hired 21 operators.

Fabre said that while the demand on capital projects usually averages around 10,000 workers, that number has jumped up to 30,000 because of the billions in new construction projects slated for Baton Rouge-area plants.

“That’s the biggest number I’ve seen since I’ve been with GBRIA,” said Fabre, who joined the trade association in 2004.

GBRIA is a trade association whose members consist of 55 petrochemical, energy, paper, pharmaceutical, storage terminal and other industrial facilities in eight parishes around Baton Rouge. The group has been working with educators, state agencies and other trade associations during the past 18 months to raise awareness of the need for more skilled craft workers. In addition, several GBRIA members have supported pilot programs in north Baton Rouge and in East Iberville Parish to reach out to more Louisianans to start training now for the coming need.

“We want to get the word out to people to consider careers in industry,” she said.

Fabre said new training programs started this month at local community and technical colleges and more local high schools will offer carpentry training programs this fall.

“Things are already rolling, but there are still more action steps,” she said. “We want the word to get out to Louisiana citizens.”