PEARL ― When the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation unveils its new Gulf Coast Career Training Center on Oct. 7, it will begin a new era that builds on more than 20 years of creating a stronger, better-prepared workforce for Mississippi.

MCEF’s grand opening celebration begins at 11:30 a.m. at 14049 Fastway Lane in Gulfport, where the new, state-of-the-art facility built specifically for adult craft learners will be introduced. The program will feature Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes, Gulfport Municipal School District Superintendent Glen East, MCEF Board Chairman Whit Adams and MCEF President Mike Barkett.

“Our new training center is designed to serve the needs of Mississippi’s construction industry, particularly in coastal communities that are experiencing significant growth,” Barkett said. “In partnership with businesses and industries, we’re building a pipeline of skilled trade professionals who will play a direct role in building a better, stronger future for Mississippi and the Gulf Coast.”

The new training center is a companion to the MCEF Training Center in Pearl that opened in 2017. Encompassing more than 6,000 square feet of training and classroom space, the Gulfport center specializes in providing hands-on training and certification for trade professions such as carpentry, electrical, masonry, welding, pipefitting and HVAC.

In response to industry needs, MCEF is offering fast-track, six-week courses that focus on basic skills along with a four-year apprenticeship program for students who work during the day and attend classes at night. By ensuring that trainees are well-versed in the fundamentals, MCEF is ensuring that workers learn and master more specific skills required by their employers.

Along with top-notch instructors and well-equipped facilities, MCEF is offering day and evening classes to accommodate trainees’ schedules.

October also happens to be National Careers in Construction Month, an official, month-long observance in Mississippi that focuses on statewide strategies to address shortages of craft professionals. In addition to the Gulf Coast grand opening, MCEF has several events planned that highlight ongoing efforts to bolster workforce development.

Recognized nationally for its achievements, MCEF excels in training and credentialing at multiple levels, including high school career and technical, adult craft apprenticeships, skill upgrade classes and outreach training.

Spotlighting Mississippi’s need for more than 80,000 craft professionals by 2022 to support the state’s growing construction industry, Barkett said that MCEF is making sure those jobs are filled by qualified Mississippians who are credentialed in their respective crafts.

With the opening of its new center, MCEF will step up efforts to support a growing need on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for traditional craft workers such as plumbers, HVAC technicians, welders, carpenters and electricians.

“In many ways, the future of Mississippi’s construction industry depends on the proactive measures we’re putting in place today to make craft training a priority in our state,” Barkett said. “We will continue making the case to new generations of Mississippians that a skilled trade profession is not just a great choice for today’s job market — it’s also the wave of the future.”

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