The LABI Report: Jobs for Louisiana’s graduates

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 1, 2002


Recently, a meeting was held at the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge where legislative, business, labor and education leaders throughout the state met to focus on one of the most important issues facing Louisiana and America today – the education of at-risk youth.

Specifically, this meeting was convened to promote a program called Jobs for Louisiana’s Graduates (JLG), which is an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). Having existed nationwide for 20 years, JAG is a non-profit corporation aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of high school graduates.

Louisiana has established one of the most thriving JAG programs in the nation. Six years ago, JLG began with only two pilot sites, and today it has 43 sites in 18 parishes.

During 2000, more than 1,100 participants in high schools, vo-tech colleges and alternative school centers received a high school diploma or GED, plus marketable skills which enabled them to obtain good jobs.

Students enrolled in this state-assisted program generally find it of great benefit. The statistics speak for themselves.

Louisiana’s JLG Class of 2000 had a 91 percent graduation rate, of which 78 percent were able to secure a full-time job. How much does this program cost?

The average cost per participant is between $1,200 and $1,400.

However, the state recoups this expenditure over a 14-month period in taxes paid by the employed JLG graduate. More than 90 percent of the business owners who have employed a JLG graduate say that it has been a good investment for their company.

Unfortunately, there are many at-risk youth who do not know about JLG.

Governor Mike Foster is encouraging the business community and state leaders to take an active role to support this valuable program.

Taking JLG to the next level will have a positive, long-term impact on all of Louisiana’s citizenry by graduating more students from high school, supplying a large number of entry-level workers with some degree of skills, and reducing the need for government support services that are a drain on taxpayers.

Louisiana will continue to reap many rewards from JLG.

The vision for JLG is to grow and serve at-risk youth in all 64 parishes. Not only will it help to educate Louisiana’s at-risk youth, but it will also provide employers with better skilled entry-level workers.

Higher skilled workers will have greater income opportunities throughout their lives, increase government revenues and reduce the high cost of state-supported services. In order for our state to aggressively pursue economic development and be competitive with other southern states, we must have an educated workforce.

The JLG program is definitely one step in the right direction.

DAN JUNEAU is the president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.