The Future of Workforce Development in Mississippi - October 29, 2013

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Mississippi Manufacturers Association

Conference Examines Mississippi's Workforce Development Ecosystem

Attendees explored promising practices and ideas to refine the state's workforce development ecosystem. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant started the discussion, which centered on the need to align programs in education and workforce training more closely with the needs of employers. Recommendations that surfaced include:

  • Focus on addressing challenges of underemployed adults and those with a high school education or less
  • Expand entrepreneurial training and access to capital for people interested in self-employment
  • Emphasize skilled trades and not just bachelor's degrees as a path to employment to address business needs and to improve Mississippi's low labor force participation rate
  • Instruct middle and high school students in "hard" and "soft" vocational skills
  • Improve coordination within Mississippi's workforce ecosystem by broadening the use of data and analytics
  • Develop dedicated workforce academies, perhaps within state community colleges, to offer GED preparation, remedial basic skills training, and financial literacy, and help high school students learn about paths to employment and economic opportunity.

Conference attendees also heard from workforce development specialists whose programs have shown particular promise. For example, James Williams, vice president of economic and community services at Itawamba Community College, discussed the school's work with unemployed people and the K–12 educational system. He noted the prevalence of underemployment among dislocated workers who find new jobs, and how solutions to this problem must be individualized and local.

Read a more thorough summary of the conference here.