LED is helping IBM tempt Lafayette talent to Baton Rouge

The gist: In an unusual move, the state’s economic development agency is holding a job fair Saturday (tomorrow), Jan. 19, in Lafayette on IBM’s behalf to fill jobs at the tech giant’s operations in Baton Rouge. At a glance, it looks like the state is helping IBM poach Lafayette’s talent. Local economic development leaders tell me this is an unprecedented move. As far as anyone can remember, there’s never been a job fair for Baton Rouge-based jobs held in Lafayette before, especially not one that’s sponsored by state government. Expansions at CGI and Waitr make for poor timing. A few years ago, Lafayette was producing more tech talent than local tech jobs, but that dynamic has shifted dramatically in recent years. Waitr and CGI will have hundreds of jobs to fill in coming years. Meanwhile, LEDA’s list of available jobs already has about 50 listings of open positions in information technology alone. Lafayette has good reason to be protective of its talent. How about a job fair in Baton Rouge? On that note, there are so many open IT positions in Lafayette that one can argue we need our own job fair to poach talent from Baton Rouge. The word is that’s exactly what local economic developers want. If you want to attend … or protest: The job fair is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Devalcourt Building at South Louisiana Community College, 320 Devalcourt St. If you want to see exactly what kind of jobs they have available, you can view the list at this link. In response to a request for comment, LED had this to say: “LED FastStart® is sponsoring a job fair to bring opportunity to Lafayette citizens – in this case, those who may wish to embark on a career with IBM. Our role is to bring attention to open positions, and to find the best fit for our citizens. Through our LED FastStart program and other workforce resources, LED assists expanding employers in finding skilled talent across city, parish and even state boundaries. Our goal is to cultivate jobs and economic opportunity for all of the people of Louisiana, so that they can secure the best career opportunities for themselves and their families. Our LouisianaJobConnection.com portal performs this same function online — matching job seekers with employers that are advertising openings throughout Louisiana. By assisting expanding employers with physical job fairs, we are extending what is readily available online to a more interactive forum where job seekers and employers can identify good fits. The Lafayette career fair, like others we have conducted, helps IBM accomplish that goal. “We are actively assisting GDIT, CGI, CenturyLink, DXC Technology and others in building a pool of software and IT talent that will lead to thousands of new Louisiana jobs. To accomplish that, the State of Louisiana is funding higher education and community college investments that involve every higher education system in the state. We are assisting all our expanding IT employers, both large and small, when we support ULL, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Southern, Grambling and many other campuses. The more comprehensive we can be in our outreach, the more Louisiana’s workers and their families will benefit. Opportunity extends well beyond the boundary of any single parish in our state, and we seek to optimize opportunity for citizens in every parish.” — LED Secretary Don Pierson