LAFAYETTE, La. – On April 19, One Acadiana (1A) hosted the organization’s annual event to update partners on the regional 55 by 25 educational attainment initiative. The 55 by 25 initiative’s goal is to increase the proportion of working-age adults in Acadiana with postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other high-value credentials to 55 percent by 2025.
At the event, 1A presented a trio of partners on a new respiratory therapy apprenticeship program with the 55 by 25 Accelerator Award. The award is presented annually to one or more partners who have helped accelerate progress toward the 55 by 25 goal. Recipients were: Karen Wyble of Ochsner Lafayette General, Dr. Nancee Sorenson of LSU Eunice, and Brenda Foulcard of Acadiana Workforce Solutions.
The partnership on this new apprenticeship was sparked at a 1A Workforce & Education Committee meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic, which surfaced a regional need for training more respiratory therapists. Following the meeting, Ochsner Lafayette General and other employers, including VieMed, teamed up with LSU Eunice and Acadiana Workforce Solutions to work on a solution.
What emerged was the first-of-its-kind respiratory therapy apprenticeship program. Through the apprenticeship, students will complete their required academic courses at LSU Eunice (18 months), after which they will be employed by Ochsner Lafayette General to “earn while they learn” for their clinical rotations (18 months). Acadiana Workforce Solutions is providing resources such as funding for wraparound services to ensure student success.
Foulcard shared, “The intention is to recruit a diverse population of students that have traditionally been underrepresented in the allied health workforce, recognizing that better care comes from better representation of the population served.”
This program is planned to launch in fall 2023 with a cohort of 10 students. Prospective students interested in learning more about the program should contact Kathleen Warner, Program Director for Respiratory Care at LSU Eunice: (337) 550-1341 // email@example.com.
“We are proud to present the 55 by 25 Accelerator Award to these individuals and their organizations for their innovative approach and the program’s goal to reach underserved populations,” said One Acadiana President & CEO Troy Wayman. “One Acadiana’s focus is to find solutions that will have a lasting and positive impact on our community, and the creation of this program is a great example of leveraging regional partnerships to create meaningful change. The launch of this respiratory therapy apprenticeship program would not have been possible without each partner’s willingness to collaborate, and we applaud them for doing just that.”
“Even as we are getting this program off of the ground, we are thinking about the future,” said Sorenson. “A great element of this apprenticeship model is that it could be replicated for other companies, other healthcare occupations, or even other industries.”
“This program connects back to the 55 by 25 goal in that it assists in increasing the number of adults who want to go back to school and get a post-secondary degree or certification,” said Wyble. “We’re excited that this program will serve as outreach for those in Acadiana who need our support to be able to get the education they need to further care for their families.”
At the event, 1A also shared an update on educational attainment data. Based on the most recent Census data, for 2021, Acadiana’s postsecondary attainment rate is 40.9 percent. This includes attainment of associate degrees or higher levels of education, which increased by 0.6 percentage points year-over-year to 28.1 percent. It also includes an estimate for attainment of technical certificates and industry-based certifications.
About One Acadiana
One Acadiana is the leading economic development organization for the nine-parish Acadiana region located in south Louisiana. With more than 700 investors, members, and partners, One Acadiana serves as the voice of the regional business community. The organization is located in the city of Lafayette and serves a region of nearly 700,000 people with a vibrant culture and unique entrepreneurial spirit. Learn more at OneAcadiana.org.