In 2015, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber released its first annual regional workforce report—an in-depth look at labor supply and demand in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, metropolitan area. One of the recommendations from the organization’s research was that skilled craft educational institutions needed to start to rigorously track training completers.
It was a sensible takeaway based on holes in educational supply data. And now?
“… The statewide career and technical colleges are now tracking skilled craft certificate completers more closely as a result of a suggestion in our workforce report,” says Andrew Fitzgerald, Director of Business Intelligence at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
This is one outcome of the robust research that the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) undertakes through its policy, research, and advocacy arm. BRAC’s mission is to lead economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge metro, and its research serves to inform and guide its business recruitment, retention, and expansion work as well as facilitate public-private regional partnerships.
BRAC’s second annual workforce report came out in October 2016. The study is one of the several from Fitzgerald and his colleagues that rely extensively on Emsi data.
“The research we’ve done (with) Emsi has had positive outcomes in both project wins and real-world improvements,” Fitzgerald says.
More Than Reports
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber uses Emsi Developer for more than research reports. When site selection requests come in, Fitzgerald says BRAC regularly pulls Emsi’s wage data and occupational numbers housed in Developer. “The drive-time feature in particular has received positive reviews from site selection consultants,” he notes.
On the partnership front, BRAC works with regional businesses and various public agencies. The chamber is heavily involved in local education, and “we try to encourage local school districts to implement skilled craft/career training at the high school level,” Fitzgerald says. “Emsi’s insight into which occupations are high wage/high growth assists us in which Jump Start pathways to advocate for.”
Construction and manufacturing are two of the major industries in greater Baton Rouge, as BRAC’s regional workforce report highlights (see a table from the 2016 report below). Local businesses in these sectors often have a big need for skilled trades workers—electricians, carpenters, welders, etc. This is one big reason why BRAC takes an active role in helping build a healthy regional workforce pipeline.
A Range of Employment Projections
In the 2016 regional workforce report and other research, BRAC combines Emsi employment projections with the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s projections and the outlook from a local economist. It incorporates all three estimates to come up with a range of projections to present in its research.
For example, BRAC provided these ranges in its 2017 economic outlook report to give a fuller picture of where the regional workforce could be headed over the next year.
Emsi is just one source of projections and other data for the chamber, but it’s an important one.
“The value of Emsi data is that it’s a single, easy-to-use source for multiple metrics,” Fitzgerald says. “Being able to jump from education to occupation to industry seamlessly is incredibly valuable. Rather than cobbling together projections based on our own regression models, or multiple federal government sources, vital info about employment, wages, supply chain, or many other factors is easily accessible.
“Emsi isn’t only solid because of the data available, but it’s also very intuitive, which is helpful as I train interns and other staff in how to use it.”