PEARL ― After joining the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation six years ago, Brent Bean has been named MCEF president with a commitment to build on the legacy of Mike Barkett, who retired on June 15.

“I’m thankful for the leadership role Mike played in taking me under his wing over the last couple of years to prepare me for this position,” said Bean, who formerly served as vice president of adult craft training. “Thanks to his vision, we’ve made tremendous progress in establishing modern CTE programs that serve thousands of students every year.”

Barkett’s 21-year career with MCEF included serving eight years as president, a period marked by unprecedented growth in the state’s skilled construction workforce and in statewide CTE enrollment.

“I’ve appreciated the opportunity to serve MCEF and contribute to workforce development in Mississippi,” Barkett said. “I’ve always believed that education is the key a better future, and that’s the direction MCEF has taken with the help of our construction industry partners.”

As MCEF’s new president, one of Bean’s goals is to bring the benefits of CTE to private schools while increasing career pathways and workforce development across Mississippi.

“As we continue supporting CTE programs in public schools, we plan to build relationships with smaller schools in more rural areas where many students don’t have exposure to CTE opportunities,” Bean said.

One of the first schools on the list is Bean’s alma mater, Amite School Center in Liberty. During the upcoming school year, juniors and seniors will have the option to enroll in an electrical program accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

“Amite School Center expressed interest in starting an electrical program, and we were able to provide assistance to make it happen,” Bean said. “We recognize that not every private school will be able to take this step right now, but we want to make them aware so they can plan for that option in the future. It’s part of MCEF’s effort to reach new groups of students in Mississippi.”

Bean, who received the MCEF President’s Hard Hat Award earlier this year, is excited about the momentum MCEF has been building to create more training opportunities and career pathways for Mississippi’s future craft professionals.

On July 1, NCCER programs in Mississippi’s community colleges were moved under MCEF’s umbrella as part of a statewide strategy to bridge the gap between adult craft training programs and the state’s construction industry.

“Our board members are very excited about the potential growth of the industry now that we have a direct link to more than 1,700 students in these construction and manufacturing programs across the state,” Bean said.

MCEF also plans to expand “Project Second Chance,” a 12-week, skills-based carpentry program launched last year to help inmates re-enter the workforce. For the program starting in the fall, HVAC will be added to the training curriculum.

A native of McComb, Bean received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Delta State University. He joined MCEF as an area director in 2016 and since then has traveled throughout the state meeting with school leaders, educators, students and parents as well as construction industry representatives.

Over the years, he’s seen a gradual shift in attitudes as more Mississippians learn about the benefits of CTE and the variety of professional career paths available to new generations of students. He also has seen the construction industry’s workforce needs continue to grow—a trend that’s accelerating as older employees retire.

Through the decades, MCEF’s message has been consistent: Great pay. Career stability. Opportunities for advancement. Whether students plan to attend college or enter the workforce after high school, they can check all of the boxes by enrolling in one of Mississippi’s many accredited CTE programs.

“Some apprentices are driving to our MCEF adult craft training classes in company trucks, and their employers are paying for their tuition,” Bean said. “They’re earning money instead of accumulating debt, which will put them ahead of the game after they graduate. The more people know about construction trades, the more they realize that CTE is a smart investment in the future that also supports business growth and economic development right here in Mississippi.”

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF at