PEARL ― Since joining the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation in 2015, Patrick Etheredge has helped expand and improve adult craft training programs and put more Mississippians to work in the state’s thriving construction industry. In recognition of his efforts, Etheredge received the 2021 President’s Hard Hat Award from MCEF during the organization’s recent awards program.

“Patrick is a team player who goes above and beyond in everything he does for MCEF,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “Thanks to his expertise in workforce development, we have more productive working relationships with both our clients and partners. Our commercial driver’s license program is an example of his success at creating training opportunities that lead directly to employment. His contributions are impressive, and we can’t wait to see the work he will do in the future.”

As MCEF’s vice president of workforce development and adult training, Etheredge is involved in all aspects of preparing prospective craft professionals for a range of construction careers. He works to ensure that MCEF programs are responsive to the needs of the construction industry and that trainees have the skills and knowledge required to be successful in today’s workplace.

“Our focus is not just on providing quality, industry-driven training but also on putting people to work and helping close the gap in Mississippi’s workforce needs,” he said. “We’re preparing men and women to enter the workforce with the best training possible for their lives and futures. If you do a trade well enough, you can be your own boss and be an entrepreneur. MCEF helps people prepare for those opportunities.”

Etheredge played a key role in MCEF’s work with the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility to launch a commercial driver’s license training initiative for first-time or low-level offenders. Its primary focus is preparing male and female inmates to take the commercial driver’s license permit test within three months of their release.

In recent years, Etheredge has helped the Mississippi Department of Corrections revamp its workforce training program for inmates, specifically military veterans who want to learn a new skill that can lead to stable employment after their release.

“We’re training 300 inmates a year to re-enter the workforce, and we’d like to see that number increase,” he said. “You can see the positive change that happens when they experience camaraderie and a sense of accomplishment, and these programs also are helping reduce recidivism rates.”

This year, MCEF launched “Project Second Chance” a 12-week, skills-based carpentry program developed in partnership with the MDOC and Mississippi Veterans Affairs. Participants earn $300 a week along with job placement upon successful completion in addition to level-one national credentials from the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

Etheredge graduated from Biloxi High School and attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and marketing. He had been employed several years at a newspaper when his wife, who worked in the construction industry, told him about a job opening with a concrete contracting company.

“I started as a general laborer, and I absolutely loved it,” Etheredge said. “There was a tangible sense of completion whenever we finished a project — something that would be there for years that you had a hand in building and that you could show your kids.”

After advancing to carpenter’s helper and equipment operator, he eventually became a human resources manager specializing in craft workforce needs for Roy Anderson Corp. in Gulfport, where he worked for 15 years before joining MCEF.

“I’m humbled by receiving the President’s Award, and I feel very fortunate to work with people who push me to be a better person,” Etheredge said. “MCEF is like a family — it’s not like coming to work. There’s a bond here that I haven’t had at other jobs. It’s a phenomenal group of people who do everything they can to make MCEF successful. I work with some of the best people in the world.”

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