Leaders meet to discuss workforce needs for Sasol expansion - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Leaders meet to discuss workforce needs for Sasol expansion

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

State and local economic development and workforce leaders met Wednesday to discuss how to ready the local workforce for the jobs that will be created by Sasol's expansion.

Leaders met to discuss exactly what kind of jobs the expansion will create and what kind of training courses are needed to meet those needs.

On Monday, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that the state will fund a $20 million training center at Sowela Technical Community College to help train people for the integrated gas-to-liquids and ethane cracker complex.

Sasol announced Monday that the company is planning the $16-to-$21 billion facility at its location in Westlake. Officials said the expansion will create 7,000 direct and indirect jobs. The expansion is expected to take several years to complete.

State officials say it is the largest manufacturing investment in Louisiana history.

Dr. Joseph Fleishman, Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development at Sowela, spoke to KPLC on Wednesday morning about the training center.

"The training center will totally change Southwest Louisiana. It will put us in a position in which we become global players, preparing our workforce and impacting the whole state," he said.

Fleishman said the center will afford the school the opportunity to work with business and industry in developing customized training.

"Industry right now is ramping up for construction workers so we know we need trained welders, machinists, millwrights, pipefitters, electronic technicians – all of those programs that Sowela Technical Community College currently has, we'll be offering those," he said.

Fleishman said the school will also offer a series of non-credit, short-term training courses for individuals to improve upon the skills they already have.

Sasol officials have said that eventually, there will be a website for those interested in employment or doing business with Sasol.

KPLC's Theresa Schmidt will have more from the Wednesday meeting on later editions.

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