The “Wave of Louisiana Unemployment” is here at our doorstep at unprecedented levels since the Great Depression with Louisiana unemployment in March at 44.9%. In Q2, about 14% of jobs in Baton Rouge are at high risk of being disrupted or lost because of the coronavirus, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institute.
Beginning in the Fall of 2020, The Futures Fund will expand its ‘CODING FOR THE WEB’ training offering to include adults recently unemployed due to COVID-19, veterans, and out-of-school youth (OSY), known also as “vulnerable” or “opportunity” youth. Although tragic circumstances bring about this expansion, an opportunity to begin upskilling adults to break the cycle of economic despair plaguing low-income workers in Baton Rouge presents itself.
Resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the current and projected unemployment rate in Louisiana has reached unprecedented heights. As of April 2020, weekly unemployment claims increased by 6,118.9% and over 277,000 Louisianians filed unemployment claims since the pandemic’s start (compared to 103,000 unemployment claims for all of 2019). According to reports compiled by 24/7 Wall St., projected unemployment in Louisiana will reach 18% by June 2020.
The Futures Fund coding program and soft-skills training provide dislocated workers, veterans, and other adults with an invaluable option for workforce training and (re-)entry; adult participants do not incur personal debt to enroll or progress in their training, as programming costs will be incurred by Louisiana Workforce Commission and the federal Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) initiative.
The Futures Fund will expand its computer coding training offering to include vulnerable, out-of-school youth (OSY) participants--individuals 16-24 years old age, who have not completed high school, or have completed high school and are in need of additional training to enter the job market. During the formative years of 16-24 years old, 40% of young people are disconnected from school and work. Out-of-school youth are more likely to live in poverty than their peers, more likely to work in jobs with low-wages and no benefits, and are twice as likely as their peers to not pursue education beyond a high school diploma. By age 28, just 1% of out-of-school youth earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree (compared to 36% of their peers). Routinely, out-of-school youth experience a lack of access to the opportunities and resources they need to be successful in life and career. The Futures Fund will position low-to-moderate income individuals for higher wage-earning careers in technology through hard skills development and hands-on work experiences to apply their training. Additionally, Futures Fund provides pathways to secondary education for individuals who wish to enroll in higher education simultaneously with employment opportunities through the program’s close partnerships at Baton Rouge Community College, River Parishes Community College, Southern University, Southeastern University, or Louisiana State University.