PEARL ― In observance of National Careers in Construction Month, the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation has a full schedule of events planned for October to promote the state’s career and technical education programs and their role in preparing Mississippians for rewarding futures in the construction industry.

Spearheaded by the National Center for Construction Education and Research and declared by Gov. Tate Reeves as an official, month-long observance in Mississippi, the annual initiative focuses on statewide strategies to address shortages of craft professionals.

“The great news is that more students are choosing to enroll in CTE programs and discovering a broad range of career possibilities in Mississippi’s growing construction industry,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “Whether they plan to go directly into a trade after high school or earn credits toward college degrees, MCEF is making sure they have access to training, tools and resources that will help them achieve their goals.”

On Oct. 7, MCEF will unveil its new, state-of-the-art Gulf Coast Career Training Center in Gulfport — a milestone that will strengthen workforce development in Mississippi by preparing coastal residents for careers in construction and manufacturing. The new facility is a companion to the already thriving MCEF Training Center in Pearl that opened in 2017.

Also in October, MCEF will open registration for the Building Futures Construction Competition, which invites Mississippi CTE students in grades 9-12 to build team projects using wood and metal. Projects will be judged in March 2021 during the MCEF SkillsUSA State Competition at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson.

During the month-long awareness campaign, MCEF plans to promote COIN — the Career Opportunity & Industry Network, a free online job bank that connects qualified job seekers with construction and manufacturing employers throughout Mississippi. MCEF recently introduced a new and improved version of COIN to better serve the needs of the construction industry.

National Careers in Construction Month is also an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of CTE faculty in Mississippi. MCEF will present the 2020 President’s Hard Hat Outstanding Counselor of the Year Award to educator Logan Francisco, who serves as a counselor for DeSoto County Career and Technology Centers.

Although the construction industry in Mississippi has been affected by the pandemic, many projects in a variety of sectors are moving ahead and providing jobs for construction professionals at all levels.

Professional trades are still among the highest paying and fastest growing jobs in the U.S. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, construction industry pay in Mississippi averaged $50,325 in 2018, 29% more than the state average for all private-sector employees.

Technology drives today’s top careers, from engineering and health care to computer science and construction. Modern CTE programs allow students to gain hands-on experience with the latest technologies in real work environments. By the time they graduate from high school, they have impressive résumés on which to build.

Students’ credentials also are portable. CTE programs in Mississippi follow standards set by the National Center for Construction Education & Research, meaning students’ training and credentials are recognized by construction and maintenance industries worldwide.

“The construction industry is a vital part of our state’s economy,” Barkett said. “Our goal at MCEF is to build a pipeline of trade professionals who will power the long-term growth and success of Mississippi’s construction industry. We’re on the right track in our efforts to prepare Mississippians for rewarding futures, and that point will be made clear during National Careers in Construction Month.”

Learn more about MCEF at http://mcef.net. "Careers in Construction Month" is an initiative of NCCER and Build Your Future ― see http://byf.org for details.

MCEF is the state's leading provider of craft training in high schools, community colleges and apprenticeship programs and partners with the state Department of Education to deliver training to 5,000 high school students enrolled in more than 100 career and technical education centers. MCEF also has articulation agreements with 15 community colleges that enable graduates of the organization’s four-year apprentice program to receive up to 32 academic hours.