In response to the significant reduction-in-force layoffs by Huntington Ingalls at its Avondale Shipyard, the Jefferson Chamber is staffing the Avondale Workforce Transition Center to provide career counseling and job placement assistance to workers losing their jobs.
Working in conjunction with the Jefferson Parish Council and the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Chamber staff help an estimated 210 people per month according to Ava Dejoie, Louisiana Workforce Development representative at the Avondale Center.
Michael Garvey, Jefferson Parish WIB Director says the Transition Center operates out of a mobile unit equipped with 12 computers. The “rapid-response” operation is modeled after what was done by the State at Michoud when thousands of employees were terminated after the space shuttle program ended. “In having the center as close to the work site as possible, we are able to dedicate staff solely to working with those leaving Avondale,” says Garvey. “We are there when they are given their 30-day notice and we are there when they are let go.”
Dejoie, who has been operating the mobile unit since last May, says that because of the State’s hiring freeze and a pay scale behind industry standards, they could not bring on new employees to help with the overwhelming amount of unemployed. “With the Chamber’s support, we were able to bring on two exceptional professionals to help with resume’ assistance, unemployment insurance, severance information, job placement and more,” Dejoie said.
Dejoie adds that 48% of the workforce at Avondale are Jefferson Parish residents. “Some of these folks have worked here for 20 years, were happy in their career and expecting to retire from it,” says Dejoie. “They now face the challenge of getting back in job hunt mode. Some don’t even have a resume’ when they come to our office.”
“This is another great example of a private-public partnership that benefits the entire community,” says Todd Murphy, Jefferson Chamber President. “We owe a lot to the development of Avondale for the boost it has given our local economy for years. While it saddens us to see such an asset go, we must focus on keeping our workers employed locally and work on the future development of our parish.”
Huntington Ingalls is a publicly traded company made up of two sectors, Newport News Shipyard in Virginia and Ingalls Shipyard which is made up of both Pascagoula, Miss. and Avondale shipyards. In 2010, Northrop Grumman announced it would be withdrawing from the Avondale operations by 2013, displacing nearly 5,000 workers.
Avondale Shipyard workers in need of assistance can visit the Avondale Workforce Transition Center located at 1440 U.S. Hwy. 90 in the DOTD parking lot or call (504) 432-3244.