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LABI-LCTCS Study Identifies Louisiana’s Maritime Industry as Invisible Economic Giant

April 9, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) have published “An Invisible Giant: The Maritime Industry in Louisiana,” a study (click here to view the study) that highlights the maritime sector’s sizable economic impact and the challenge of filling the workforce needs of maritime companies.

According to research, one in five jobs in Louisiana is connected to the maritime industry, resulting in employment income of more than $3.5 billion every year, with an $11 billion total annual economic income in the state. Louisiana recently ranked number one in export intensity and growth among all 50 states, transferring 500 million tons of cargo each year.

“With one in five jobs directly tied to the maritime industry, it is arguably our state’s most important economic sector. Educating the next generation of mariners with the modern skills this industry demands is critical to the future of Louisiana’s economy,” said Sen. Norby Chabert of District 20 who chairs the Louisiana State Senate Select Committee on Vocational and Technical Education.

The vast majority of the state’s maritime training takes place within three institutions within LCTCS: Delgado Community College in New Orleans; Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever; and South Central Louisiana Technical College in Morgan City. Although more than 9,000 Louisiana residents have been trained in these programs through licensing and credentialing mechanisms, the workforce shortage has begun to challenge Louisiana’s maritime growth.

Due to technological advancements, growth in offshore energy production and an aging workforce moving toward retirement, 50 companies that participated in the survey reported they will need to fill as many as 3,000 jobs over the next five years alone. Industry has committed to expanding partnerships with LCTCS schools to provide input on overarching efforts to set a standardized curriculum and statewide credential to ensure a quality pool of applicants within the state.

“The workforce demand of LABI members in the maritime industry is validated by the data and findings in the joint study. Some of the highest-demand jobs in Louisiana are in the maritime industry, which plans to hire as many as 3,000 workers in the next five years alone. All of these jobs require some technical training, and industry is ready and willing to partner with K12 schools and community colleges to ensure that Louisianans are prepared to maximize these opportunities,” said Stephen Waguespack, president of LABI.

Ninety-one percent of companies surveyed believe the State of Louisiana should do more to provide industry with qualified maritime workers that are needed to fill more than 3,000 anticipated jobs openings over the next five years. These shortages include maritime positions that have been rated as four- and five-star jobs by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, indicating the highest demand.

“We cannot continue to underestimate the magnitude of this untapped industry,” said Dr. Monty Sullivan, president of LCTCS. “The data from this study support our efforts to provide solutions to our state’s workforce needs. The growth of the maritime industry means more opportunities for Louisiana’s economic expansion and for residents to get high-paying, quality jobs.”

The study was jointly conducted by LABI and LCTCS to provide data that support creating a nationally-recognized maritime training institute to grow Louisiana’s workforce, fulfill the maritime industry’s demand, and expand the industry’s economic presence in the state.

The report’s findings chart a path to continue and expand industry-based training while also attracting new workers into maritime careers. The report outlines a series of recommendations to the State of Louisiana that are intended to grow the workforce and fulfill demand in two major ways:

  1. Serve the needs of more employers with the current approach, only on a larger scale; and
  2. Going beyond the traditional approach to Louisiana maritime training by becoming an attractive and informed option for students.

LABI and LCTCS are committed to jointly following through on the recommendations in the maritime workforce study and to supporting employers across Louisiana as they tackle the challenge of recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce.

LCTCS provides strategic management and support for Louisiana’s 13 community and technical colleges and more than 110,000 students annually. LABI is Louisiana’s chamber of commerce and the state chapter of the National Association of Manufacturers. The full report titled “An Invisible Giant: The Maritime Industry in Louisiana” has been published for viewing. For more information, please visit and

Click here to view Maritime Workforce Study Presentation to the Senate Select Committee on Vocational and Technical Education.