Aviation program partnership creating a work force pipeline - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Aviation program partnership creating a work force pipeline

Green Oaks High students tour SUSLA's Aerospace Technology Center the morning of Oct. 6. (Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA News 12) Green Oaks High students tour SUSLA's Aerospace Technology Center the morning of Oct. 6. (Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA News 12)
Green Oaks High students tour SUSLA's Aerospace Technology Center the morning of Oct. 6. (Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA News 12) Green Oaks High students tour SUSLA's Aerospace Technology Center the morning of Oct. 6. (Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA News 12)
Green Oaks High students tour SUSLA's Aerospace Technology Center the morning of Oct. 6. (Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA News 12) Green Oaks High students tour SUSLA's Aerospace Technology Center the morning of Oct. 6. (Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA News 12)
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

The strong partnership between Southern University at Shreveport and ExpressJet Airlines just got stronger. 

It's all thanks to a nearly $600,000 state grant over the next year for more training for the company's roughly 312 local employees. That will help with work force productivity in the near future.

But in the long term, there's another unique, three-way partnership locally. It hopes to bring future employees to the work force, especially in the manufacturing industry, where there's a big need for qualified and trained employees.

Green Oaks High School students toured SUSLA's aviation maintenance program at Shreveport's Downtown Airport on Thursday. It's all part of Manufacturing Week organized, in part, by North Louisiana Economic Partnership.  

"We work with our target industries to make sure that the work force pipeline that they need is in place," NLEP Senior Vice President Angie White said.

A work force pipeline is exactly how you could describe SUSLA's Aerospace Technology Center, which has an agreement with ExpressJet Airlines,a regional feeder. Shreveport Regional Airport is home to the company's maintenance hanger. The company gets first priority for students who graduate from SUSLA's two-year program.

"So far, the students that have graduated from this program have been hired by ExpressJet. No one has been turned away," instructor Timothy L. Banks said.

He estimates ExpressJet has hired more than 25 graduates during his 9 years with the aviation maintenance program. Other students have been hired by other local companies, along with many others hired throughout the country, Banks said. 

Ideally, he said, "I want them to stay here in Shreveport. We want to keep them home."

Several students told KSLA News 12 that Thursday was much more than just a day out of the classroom. In fact, some said they were struck by several things they learned during the visit.

One of the biggest lessons: the attention to detail and being exact with aviation maintenance.

"This industry is basically built upon trust more than anything else," Green Oaks High senior Ernest Nichols said.

Thursday's student tour is part of a much larger effort to introduce local high school students to the manufacturing industry and help get them the training they need to be hired before that sector's aging work force begins to retire in huge numbers.

Those Green Oaks High students are just some of the more than 800 students taking part in 38 tours of businesses and training centers over the next year locally. It's all part of a 3-way partnership between manufacturers, school systems and NLEP to help local businesses find a future work force.

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