MCEF URGES CRAFT WORKERS TO LEARN WHILE EARNING

PEARL ― As the construction industry boom continues across Mississippi and the nation, there’s no better time to be a trade professional than now. That’s the message the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is sharing statewide during National Apprenticeship Week.

Slated for Nov. 15-19, the nationwide observance celebrates the work of business, labor, education, and other critical partners to boost registered apprenticeships that bring success and value to America’s workforce. Of significance are their efforts to address challenges such as re-building the economy, advancing racial and gender equity and supporting underserved communities, including accessible opportunities for persons with disabilities.

“Professional trades are among the highest paying and fastest growing jobs in the U.S., yet companies are struggling to fill these positions because of a shortage of qualified employees,” said MCEF President Mike Barkett. “Through events like National Apprenticeship Week, we are positioning Mississippians for success by raising awareness about opportunities in construction and the role that apprenticeship training programs play in career development.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 94% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship program retain employment with an average annual salary of $70,000. DOL also reports that registered apprenticeships provide a viable career path for everyone, including women, people of color, and individuals with disabilities — creating opportunities that can help move Mississippi forward, Barkett noted.

“By 2023, Mississippi will need more than 80,000 craft professionals to meet the needs of the state’s growing construction industry,” he said. “MCEF is working to ensure that craft workers throughout Mississippi have access to high-quality training programs that will prepare them to pursue career opportunities in construction and other growing industries.”

According to Barkett, five key components differentiate apprenticeships from other types of workplace training programs: competitive wages from employers while learning, on-the-job experience, classroom instruction, nationally recognized credentials, and guidance from seasoned mentors.

Approved by the Department of Labor, MCEF's apprenticeship program trains and prepares craft professionals in eight trades: carpentry, electrical, HVAC, pipefitting, plumbing, sheet metal, welding and interior finish. Students must work for an approved employer to be accepted into the four-year program, which includes a total of 576 hours of classroom instruction and 8,000 on-the-job training hours. Students work during the day and take classes at night.

Not only can students discover different career tracks and make valuable industry connections through MCEF, but graduates can also take apprentice certificates to a community college and earn up to 32 academic credit hours toward an associate degree. Students reflect a variety of career journeys and include high school graduates, specialists who are preparing for licensing exams and craft professionals who are interested in learning a new trade.

"Construction companies throughout the country, as well as here in Mississippi, are gearing up to hire more workers ― if only they can find them," said Barkett. "This shortage of skilled labor is having a negative impact on the construction industry and causing the loss of millions of jobs each year. MCEF is working to address this crisis by encouraging interest in technical-based careers and providing training, resources and recognition to help build a ready workforce for Mississippi."

The mission of the non-profit MCEF is to promote careers, recruit capable individuals and train a quality workforce for the construction and manufacturing industries in the state of Mississippi. MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades.

Learn more about MCEF’s apprenticeship opportunities at http://mcef.net.