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Mississippi workforce and education to spearhead unified plan

Photo courtesy of TeleSouth Communications Inc.

Education and workforce in Mississippi have gone hand in hand for years, but now, the two will be seeing more communication. The state Workforce Investment Board was formally created in 2016 by the legislature and will advise the governor on a strategic plan for an integrated state workforce development system to align Mississippi’s resources and meet the demands of employers and job seekers.

“To help come up with a unified plan, we get federal dollars through the WIOA, which is the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act, and how our states invest those federal dollars is really around this unified plan,” said Dr. Laurie Smith head of the Workforce Investment Board.

With over 40,000 jobs available in Mississippi today, Smith said that preparing and educating the workforce in Mississippi is key to the state’s success.

“The partnerships with business and industry to link with education I think might be the missing link,” Smith said. “I think education has a lot of things going on at the K-12. This idea of the community colleges of doing apprenticeships, there are currently 169 apprentices that were hired in the last year and we just got an $847,000 grant to add more apprenticeships in the state. I think there’s more we can do there.”

Smith who has been an education and workforce development advisor to the Governor for the past six years added that all education is workforce development. She said that by 2020 65% of job openings in the U.S. will require a post-secondary education and training beyond high school and that it is the state’s job to ensure that Mississippi is properly educating its people.

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