Higher educational institutions can expect a $141.5 million funding increase next fiscal year.
The funding hike represents a 6.66 percent increase over the budget for the current fiscal year. This funding includes a new higher education workforce incentive initiative of $40 million that will better prepare Louisiana students to compete in the new global economy.
The money in the incentive fund will be made available to state research institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to state colleges and universities that partner with private industry to produce graduates with high-demand degrees and certificates, and enable them to link their coursework to industry needs and projected workforce demands.
“Our higher education institutions have done an incredible job over the past six years instituting a number of reforms to help more of our students graduate. These results are a testament to the incredible work of our faculty and students at schools across Louisiana,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal. “A few months ago I sat down with our higher education leaders and said we have brought thousands of jobs to Louisiana. If you had new money, how would you reinvest it to make sure we have the qualified workforce to take those jobs? The leaders of our higher education institutions came up with an innovative plan. The fund will strengthen the critical linkage between college coursework and employment needs in our state.”
The new incentive fund will be called the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund – or WISE Fund. The funds will be made available to state research institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to state colleges and universities that produce graduates with 4 and 5 STAR job ready degrees.
This performance based formula rewards and incentivizes the degrees that occupational forecasting and industry have shown are the most employable and the most in demand. To receive these funds, institutions will have to partner with private industry by recruiting at least a 20 percent private match in cash or in kind, such as technology and equipment.
Each institution will present a business plan that will demonstrate how the funds will be invested to reach the number of degrees we need as a state to fill the jobs we have now and in the next few years. And every year, each institution will be held accountable for reaching their goals to produce those degrees. Using data-driven predictive modeling with actual numbers from business and industry, experts were able to figure out how to predict how many and what level of degrees needed to meet workforce demands.