Jobs

Position Available: Business Outreach Assistant (Part-time)

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JOB DESCRIPTION

POSITION TITLE………….…: Business Outreach Assistant (Part-time)

WAGES………………………...: to be determined

SUMMARY:

The Business Outreach Assistant is a supervised position supporting business outreach and economic development efforts. Primary functions focus on general clerical and outreach duties, including telephoning companies, copying and scanning, typing, database entry, filing of correspondence and reports in support of the functions of economic development functions.

BASIC FUNCTIONS:

1. Administrative tasks – answering phone calls, sorting mail, etc.

2. Scanning and organizing files

3. Conducting business retention outreach to schedule meetings and compile data

4. Making copies and preparing direct mailings

5. Assist with physical execution of special events as needed, including meetings outside of offices which may require travel within the parish

6. Perform related duties as assigned.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS:

1. Familiarity with modern office equipment and computer equipment.

2. Familiarity with common word processing and spreadsheet software used on personal computers such as Word and Excel

3. Telephone etiquette and calling skills.

4. Resident of Terrebonne, Lafourche or Assumption Parish.

5. Must be age 18 or older.

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE:

1. A high school diploma or equivalent is required.

2. Enrollment in higher-education in business, economics or other relevant field of study.

3. Little to no formal employment experience preferred.

CONTACT:

Katherine Gilbert-Theriot, Director of Business Retention & Expansion

Terrebonne Economic Development Authority

985-873-6890

Report forecasts uptick in Gulf oilfield

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The Gulf of Mexico will see an increase in drilling this year for the first time since an oil bust began in mid-2014, a new forecast says.

“We expect 2019 to be a strong year for the Gulf of Mexico,” William Turner, senior research analyst at the global energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, said in a news release. “In addition to exciting new project sanctions, which could usher in more than $10 billion of investment into the region, a couple of historic firsts set to occur next year could set the stage for years to come.”

Whether that translates into new jobs for Houma-Thibodaux, and how many, remains uncertain. But the report from the prominent consulting firm is among the most optimistic since a global crude glut sent oil prices plunging, stripping more than 16,000 jobs from the area’s offshore-oil-based economy.

Shell and Chevron will lead the way, but the actual growth in exploration will come from new entrants, Wood Mckenzie says in its report, “US Gulf of Mexico: 5 things to look for in 2019.” They include companies such as Kosmos Energy, Equinor, Total, Murphy and Fieldwood.

Two major projects serve as bellwethers for the Gulf overall, according to the report, released in mid-December.

-- Chevron’s Anchor project, about 140 miles south of the Gulf oilfield service hub at Port Fourchon, is poised for a final investment decision this year. If approved, it would be the first project using new ultra-high-pressure technology to reach that stage, the result of more than two decades of industry research and development.

“Anchor will be an important one to watch,” Turner said. “The sanction of Anchor will be a significant milestone for Chevron, Total and Venari but also marks a crucial point for the offshore industry as it enters the final frontier in deepwater development.”

Success at Anchor will lead to the next wave of mega-investment in the Gulf, as several other projects using the same technology are waiting to follow its lead. Wood Mackenzie predicts that if Anchor moves forward, more than $10 billion of investment could flow into the region.

-- Shell’s Appomattox development, about 200 miles southeast of Port Fourchon, is set to begin producing oil and gas this year. It will be the Gulf’s first production from a Jurassic reservoir, high-quality oil in sediments that date back about 150 million years. It also required new technology to reach greater depths at higher pressures.

“If the Jurassic roars to life in 2019, it could give operators greater confidence in the play’s potential,” Turner said. “However, if Appomattox disappoints, the Jurassic could continue to lie dormant. The wider region would also be missing an expected strong production growth contributor.”

The report is one of several that predict an uptick this year in the Gulf oilfield. All hinge, in large part, on what happens to oil prices, which are notoriously volatile and difficult to predict, with analysts’ estimates varying widely.

Louisiana economist Loren Scott’s annual economic forecast, released in late September, projects the Houma-Thibodaux metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, will gain 700 jobs, 0.8 percent, this year. It will add another 2,100 jobs, 2.4 percent, in 2020, driven largely by gains in oil and gas. Scott’s forecast is based on oil rising from an average of $65 a barrel in 2018 to $80 a barrel by 2020.

U.S. crude ended 2018 at about $45 a barrel, down 25 percent, the first annual loss since 2015. The trend was similar for Brent, which ended the year at $54 a barrel, down 20 percent. Both ended last week about $3 higher.

In its annual forecast, the LSU Center for Energy Studies predicts increased activity this year but says in the short term the Gulf rig count will remain around 20, where it has been for months.

The Gulf Coast Energy Outlook, released in November, tempers its forecast for offshore job growth by noting what other economists and analysts have said for years. Specifically, it says companies have cut costs through innovation and efficiency, including increased automation and the use of tiebacks that run pipelines from sub-sea wells to existing platforms rather than building new ones.

“This is great news in terms of making the Gulf of Mexico more competitive for future production by lowering costs per barrel of production,” the report says. “However, these productivity gains also mean that fewer workers are needed for a given level of production.”

-- Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @CourierEditor.

Local oilfield service company adds 150 workers

Two major contracts in the Gulf of Mexico have prompted a local oilfield-service company to hire 150 new workers, officials said today.

Danos, based in Gray, says it has secured a contract to provide production workers to Equinor’s Titan platform, which operates in nearly 4,000 feet of water about 60 miles southeast of the offshore service hub at Port Fourchon.

The project, which began late last year, is Danos’ second with Equinor after it was awarded a contract for coatings maintenance on the Titan platform in the fall.

“Danos is excited for the opportunity to work with a high-performing company like Equinor,” owner Paul Danos said in a news release. “Securing and executing the details of the contract has been a true team effort, and we look forward to continuing our commitment to customer service and excellence.”

The company has also been awarded a multi-year contract for production operations with another major oil and gas producer in the Gulf, though company officials would not discuss specifics.

Danos has increased its production workforce by about 150 new employees as a result of the contracts. Most of the new positions are production operators who will be working on the Gulf Coast, with projects spanning from Galveston, Texas, to Venice, La.

“Danos’ ability to provide a recruiting and retention model for competent and skilled workers heavily influenced both contracts,” Danos said. “I commend Danos’ operations team, as well as our human resources team who worked closely with our customers’ operations and procurement teams to make both projects possible.”

Danos, which employs about 2,200 people, is the largest private employer in Terrebonne Parish.

Equinor, based in Norway with U.S. headquarters in Houston, owns 100 percent of the Titan operation and part of 10 others in the Gulf. Its operations there produce about 100,000 barrels of oil per day, and the company says planned growth will make it the fifth-largest producer in the Gulf by 2020.

-- Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierEditor.

Ochsner ups its lowest hourly wage to $12

Ochsner says its recent decision to raise its lowest wage from $8.10 to $12 per hour on Jan. 20 is based on its recent growth and wanting to “make a meaningful impact on a broad employee population.”

What remains to be seen is how other businesses in the economy will respond in the increasing competition for lower-wage workers.

Ochsner’s announced increase follows a 2017 human resources assessment that led to recommendations on programs and changes to “improve the overall financial well-being of our employees,” said Tracy Shiro, Ochsner’s senior vice president for human resources.

“Although Ochsner was already well above the current minimum wage, we wanted to do more. People are our most important asset. All jobs across the system — no matter how big or small — play a role in patient care and it is important to recognize that,” Shiro said.

Among more than 1,200 part- and full-time employees statewide to earn more next year are medical assistants, environmental service aides, patient care technicians and patient escorts. Among its sites, the company operates Ochsner St. Anne Hospital in Raceland and Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma.

The healthcare industry and its hospitals and clinics depend on a large pool of people to operate efficiently, said LSU economist James Richardson.

“Obviously, they felt that $12 was good number for them in terms of recruiting and maintaining people in those jobs that are very critical in a hospital setting, because hospitals are very labor dominated,” he said.

But what Richardson describes as “an internal decision” by Louisiana’s largest private employer could add wage pressure on companies and businesses in other service-oriented industries, such as hospitality and leisure, as competition and compensation for lower-wage workers has increased.

“The big, interesting part of it is that because they are such a big employer, particularly in the New Orleans area, it will seep over and have an impact on other industries. It will probably make hotels reconsider a little bit, and restaurants and maybe retail places. It will perhaps nudge them to ask themselves whether they are going to be competitive,” Richardson said.

The main benefit to Ochsner will be in retaining lower-wage workers, a problem facing large and small businesses across the economy, said Walter Lane, a healthcare economist at the University of New Orleans.

“These workers can work at any company. The problem is holding on to them. This should reduce some turnover,” Lane said.

In the last couple of years, several hospital systems across the country have announced similar wage floor increases. And Lane thinks Ochsner views itself as not just in competition locally, but nationally as well.

“They want to be one of the big guys. They are still far from that in terms of revenue, but I think when they see other hospital systems do it, that may be some small pressure on them,” Lane said, adding that Ochsner has been “very successful” and that he believes it genuinely wanted to share that with its employees.

Still, the current economic environment and expectations for that environment are always primary factors in any business decision, economists say.

Ochsner’s move comes amid historically low unemployment nationwide and a flattening labor force participation rate, which refers to the total number of people employed or in search of a job.

While Louisiana’s 5 percent unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation, labor economists consider it low by historical standards. And the state’s labor force participation rate has consistently trailed the national rate, which stood at 62.9 percent in November.

The participation rate is important to overall economic productivity, and since peaking in early 2000 has declined primarily due to an aging population. But other factors include more young adults in school and more people wanting to be stay-at-home parents, researchers say.

The unemployment rate for less-skilled and less-educated workers has also fallen significantly.

The national jobless rate for workers 25 years old or older without a high school diploma dropped from 7.7 percent in November 2016 to 5.4 percent in November 2018, while the rate dropped from 4.7 percent to 3.3 percent for workers with a high school diploma but no college over the same period.

The tight labor market has placed pressure on companies and businesses to raise wages. But, generally speaking, they have been reluctant to do so.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s summary of regional economic activity, known as the beige book, said in September that its business contacts were continuing to see hiring challenges, “especially for low-skilled and hourly positions.” But firms were focused on other ways to recruit, retain and reward workers — offering flexible schedules, bonuses, profit-sharing and other incentive pay programs that could be discontinued in a downturn.

“Once you make a wage increase, it is hard to pull that back,” Richardson said. “Maybe you can reduce the number of people you employ, but you can’t really pull that wage back down very easily at all. So, I think companies are very cautious in doing this. We have low unemployment now, but how long is it going to last?”

The recent uptick in wages has also been attributed to states and cities setting minimum wage increases and some large private companies raising pay for their lowest paid workers, adding to inflationary pressures.

In 2018, 18 states increased their minimum wages under previously enacted legislation or ballot initiatives and now 29 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal rate.

And recent announcements by large national firms such as Amazon increasing starting wages at the lower end of the pay scale “have created broad pressure to raise pay ... across the region,” particularly among hospitality and retail employers, according to the Atlanta Fed’s December beige book.

Yet despite the pressure, industries vary in their capacity to raise wages. While Louisiana’s healthcare and hospitality industries are relatively strong, “other industries in the state are not quite as robust as they are in other parts of the country,” Richardson said.

And the fact that workers typically do not relocate for lower-wage jobs could also dampen any ripple effect from Ochsner’s decision. “If you are merely trying to increase jobs at a hotel, you are going to have a hard time trying to move people in from outside the area at that lower wage,” Richardson said.

Louisiana has not adopted a state minimum wage. It follows the $7.25 federal minimum set in 2009. Many businesses pay more to their lowest wage workers. The median hourly wage in the state is $15.62.

About 3.6 percent of hourly workers in Louisiana -- 39,000 workers, including exempt, tipped employees -- earned an hourly wage at or below the federal minimum in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

By Michael Joe / New Orleans City Business

Jump Start provides job-ready workers

Employers in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes can easily find new employees educated through local schools as part of the state’s Jump Start career pathway program.

“Say you’re a retailer looking to increase your staff for the holiday shopping season. Wouldn’t it be nice to hire a young person for evening shifts who has some training in customer service?” the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority said in a news release.

Terrebonne Parish public school students earned more than 3,000 certifications by their 2018 graduation, TEDA said.

Jump Start is Louisiana’s career and technical education program that aims to begin career training while students are still in high school, allowing them to earn industry-based certifications and a career diploma.

High school student are earning certifications in the areas of automotive, health care, food service, web design, emergency medical services, construction, carpentry, electrical, welding, transportation, agriculture, business and more.

“These Jump Start career diplomas give students a level of knowledge in these areas, offering companies new options when hiring entry-level staff and providing students skills sets upon which they can build through their career or further education,” TEDA said.

In 2018, TEDA said, about 42 percent of Terrebonne graduates, or 480 students, received 3,361 certifications. Next May, the system anticipates graduating about another 450 with certifications.

TEDA is organizing a spring job fair to help the pending graduates. Call 873-6890 for information about Jump Start graduates or if your company is interested in participating in the job fair.

Employers: Look for certifications when hiring entry-level staff

Terrebonne Parish Public School Students earned more than 3,000 certifications by their 2018 graduation.

HOUMA, October 17, 2018 – It’s an HR manager’s dream: Finding a low-cost way of assessing an applicant’s skill sets and training.

Luckily, employers have a new tool they can use when hiring entry-level employees, being brought to the hiring community via the Jump Start career pathway program.

Jump Start is Louisiana’s career and technical education program which aims to begin career training while students are still in high school, allowing them to earn industry-based certifications and culminating their high-school career with a Career Diploma. The program sets the students up to enter the workforce and/or continue their education with a head start on skill sets needed by employers.

Say you’re a retailer looking to increase your staff for the holiday shopping season: wouldn’t it be nice to hire a young person for evening shifts who has some training in customer service? The Jump Start program offers a Customer Service and Sales certification – and students across Terrebonne Parish are testing for the certification this fall.

But Customer Service and Sales is only one of the certifications available to students. Terrebonne Parish School students can earn several of the following in their junior and senior years:

• Adobe Certified Associate Photoshop

• ASE Automotive certifications (auto body/collision and repair technology/technician, drive train and axels, electrical/electronics, engine performance and repair, heating/air conditioning, maintenance/light repair, steering/suspension, and transmission/transaxel)

• ASE Welding Level 1

• Certified Nursing Assistant

• Certified Restaurant Server

• CIW Web Design Specialist, Network Technology Associate, Internet Business Associate

• Emergency Medical Responder

• FEMA National Incident Management System

• First Aid/CPR/AED

• Food and Beverage Executive

• Louisiana Micro-Enterprise

• Microsoft Office Specialist

• Microsoft Office Specialist Master

• MOUS Office Specialist 2010

• NCCER Core

• NCCER Carpentry Level 1 and 2

• NCCER Electrical Level 1 and 2

• NCCER Welding Level 2

• OSHA 10 General Industry

• Pro Start S/P2 Safety and Pollution Prevention

• ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certificate

• T2 Production Safety Systems

• WorkKeys (skills evaluation in applied math, graphic literacy and workplace documents

These Jump Start career diplomas give students a level of knowledge in these areas, offering companies new options when hiring entry-level staff and providing students skills sets upon which they can build through their career or further education.

College-bound students are also earning certifications in the business and production safety applications, all extremely useful as they further their education.

In fact, in its first graduating year of the various Jump Start curriculum, Terrebonne Parish School District graduates approximately 42% of its student population with a total of 3,361 certifications in 2018; that’s 480 graduates with industry-based certifications in hand. In May 2019, the system anticipates graduating approximately another 450 with certifications.

Discussion has started about conducting a job fair in Spring 2019 to help these pending graduates connect with potential employers. If your company would be interested in participating in such a job fair, please contact TEDA at 985-873-6890.

Students training for entry-level jobs

Terrebonne Economic Development Authority is touting a local school district program that aims to provide high school students with problem-solving skills and the ability to be trained to fill entry-level jobs.

The ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate test is given to Terrebonne students on Jump Start Career Pathway tracks, some upper level English students and students who scores a 21 or less on the ACT college entrance test.

TEDA says students can earn certifications that verify proficiency in problem solving; critical thinking; reading and using work-related text; applying information from workplace documents and mathematical reasoning to solve problems; locating, synthesizing and applying information presented graphically; and comparing, summarizing and analyzing information presented in multiple graphics.

“Why is this valuable to businesses? These areas indicate students’ strength in using mathematical reasoning and problem-solving techniques to solve work-related problems,” TEDA said.

Among the skills student are taught are solving problems using mathematical skills, identifying a trend and figuring out a goal to a new situation, TEDA said.

Students with WorkKeys certificates can help employers better align their new hires’ skills with those needed for a job, TEDA said. That also translates into “shorter training times with greater knowledge retention, reduced turnover, increased performance ratings for skilled workers, improved employee morale and decreased operator error.”

Students with certification are being advised to note this on their resumes and job applications. They can be verified at http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/workkeys-for-educators/ncrc.html.

For information, call Katherine Gilbert-Theriot at TEDA at 873-6890.