20 more Plaquemines Parish residents are equipped for careers in the electrical field after completing Venture Global LNG’s Will To Skill Program.
A ceremony was held April 1 at Belle Chasse High School to celebrate the completers, who each received NCCER Core Construction, NCCER Electrical I, OSHA10 and HAZMAT certifications, along with Foundational Leadership training through Will To Skill. Venture Global funded the 10-week program, which was offered at no cost to the students, and Nunez Community College provided the training. Additional partners in the Will To Skill initiative include the Plaquemines Parish School Board, Plaquemines Parish Government and Tri-Parish Works.
The completers recognized on April 1 were part of the second cohort to complete the Will To Skill Program. A third cohort is currently underway.
Venture Global established the Will To Skill Program in 2020 to provide electrical training and certification to 60 Plaquemines residents as a community investment ahead of construction on the company’s first of two $8 billion liquefied natural gas facilities along the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish.
“Venture Global LNG is thrilled to be building our largest LNG export facility in Plaquemines Parish,” said Venture Global CEO Mike Sabel. “We are committed to being a good neighbor to the community, which includes investing in the people who live and work in the Parish. The Will to Skill program has been a success thanks to the close partnership and collaboration with the Plaquemines Parish Government, the Plaquemines Parish School Board, Tri-Parish Works and Nunez Community College. In 2021, Venture Global looks forward to continuing to make major contributions in the Parish, including the graduation for Will to Skill cohort 3 and the launch of construction of Plaquemines LNG.”
At least half of the 18 completers from the first cohort, which ended in September 2020, have found work in the electrical field.
After the completion of the third Will To Skill cohort, Venture Global will analyze the data from the program and decide if additional in-demand trades like Electrical II or Commercial Driver’s License will be offered through a similar model.
Venture Global Senior Vice President of Development Fory Musser, who delivered the keynote address at the April 1 completion ceremony, said Will To Skill’s impact is already being felt in the parish.
“Will To Skill has exceeded all of my expectations. It’s some of the best investments we’ve made,” said Musser. “In 2015, having outreach meetings and open houses in the parish to talk about the benefits of the (LNG facilities) and how to minimize the impacts and get ideas, people talked about the shortage of technical training facilities in the parish. We heard that, and last year we put a plan in to action to do something about it.”
Nunez joined the program in 2021 both to provide the specified training and to establish a presence in an area that has been underserved by higher education.
“It’s such an opportunity to reach out to the residents of Plaquemines Parish and really make a difference in ordinary folks’ lives,” said Dan Mills, who was Nunez’s Director of Workforce Development when Nunez joined Will To Skill. “When there’s an opportunity to bring so many credentials and access to the residents here at no cost, it was a no-brainer. It was really exciting to engage with Venture Global and marry the Nunez principles of access, inclusivity and diversity, and put all that together into what came out to a very successful program.”
Will To Skill participants engage in 10 weeks of instruction, which adds up to 180 hours of contact time. Mills said the students dedicated four hours a day, four days a week to learning a skillset with which many had no prior experience.
“When students come in, they’re not too sure what’s going on. They’re skeptical. We’re asking them to make a big commitment with deferred gratification,” said Mills. “But these guys were dedicated. And in the end, you could see it in their step as they walked across that stage (to receive their certificate), the confidence and satisfaction they got. That’s what makes you know they’re going to be successful.”
The students who participated in Will To Skill came into the program with little preparation beyond a preliminary seminar and an aptitude test. Maylone Sylve of Port Sulphur said her uncle participated in the first cohort and encouraged her to sign up. Nathaniel Vogt of Belle Chasse decided to join after his mom read about the program in the newspaper. The company that Justin Brown of Belle Chasse was working for had shut down just before the coronavirus pandemic, then he saw a Will To Skill post on Facebook.
“There was nothing available (for employment), and I was looking for a trade to get into another field,” said Brown. “The curriculum was pretty in-depth. I feel like I can go to a job site a little more prepared than the average person.”
“It was never a field I would have sought out. But when I started learning about it, it was really interesting,” said Owen Gilleland of Belle Chasse.
“It was a lot of hours but we got a lot of hands-on experience,” said Thung Nguyen of Buras. “I hope to build a career with it. I’ve got to do something.”
Nunez Chancellor Dr. Tina Tinney encouraged the Will To Skill completers to continue adding new skills even as they embark on their careers.
“We’re just so proud of you. We encourage you to come back and check out Nunez for all of our opportunities. And always continue to learn,” said Dr. Tinney.
Registration for the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters at Nunez is open now at Nunez.edu.
Anyone seeking additional information on Venture Global or the Will To Skill Program can contact Senior Public Affairs & Development Associate A.J. Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Nunez Community College
Nunez Community College is a student-centered institution that delivers relevant and innovative curriculum integrating the arts, sciences, and humanities leading to academic credentials and workforce opportunities. Nunez serves a vital role in the community by engaging with partners to support student success and personal growth. Nunez Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas. Nunez is located at 3710 Paris Road, Chalmette, LA. For more information, visit www.nunez.edu.