Ascension Parish Schools receives LCEF grant for electrical program

Andrew Green Contributing Writer
Ascension Parish school system members and LCEF representatives display a check for a $50,000 grant awarded to Ascension Parish schools for a new electrical program of studies.

Ascension Parish School system superintendent Patrice Pujol announced a $50,000 grant from Louisiana Construction Education Foundation (LCEF) to develop an electrical program of studies at Dutchtown High in a press conference held on June 30 in the Dutchtown High Media Center.

“Training programs that credential students in high demand, high wage jobs are essential to our kids success,” Pujol said. “They provide hands-on experiences and meaningful credentials that help our students enter the work force well ahead of their counterparts upon graduation. “

The program will be based on National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) standards that lead to a national certification. According to Pujol, there were 639 Ascension Parish students who received industry-based certification in the class of 2015.

“According to the state’s workforce demand and gap analysis, Louisiana currently faces a shortage of nearly 7,000 workers in construction trades,” Pujol said. “In particular there is a shortage of over 1,200 electricians, which makes today’s announcement particularly relevant. We’re going to see those numbers do nothing but go up.”

LCEF executive director Tim Johnson also spoke at the conference. “We want to work to improve the quality and the number of professionals,” Johnson said. “We are changing the paradigm that says you can only be successful if you get your training at a four-year college.”

Dutchtown principal Carli Francois said the LCEF grant will fund the necessary equipment and material to jump start the electrical program. “We are happy to give back to our local community by preparing students for high demand, high wage careers,” Francois said.

Francois introduced Jeff Templet as the instructor for the new electrical program. Templet said the program will introduce students to all opportunities of the trade, and will be focused a lot on hands-on experiences and team building projects. “We will always stress safety,” Templet said. “Safety is going to be a big part (of the program).”

After the press conference, Templet and a pair of previous students, Brenden Melancon and Anthony Prudhomme, displayed electrical wiring instruction that future students of the program will experience.

The new electrical studies program will join the family of industry based certifications offered at Ascension Parish schools that include Emergency Medical Responder, Certified Nurse Assistant, levels in carpentry, instrumentation, pipefitting, welding, among many others.