PEARL ― On May 6, military veterans participating in the “Project Second Chance” training program will have a chance to put their new construction skills to work on a project in Jackson for Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area (HFHMCA).

“Project Second Chance” is a skills-based carpentry program developed by the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Mississippi Veterans Affairs. Its goal is to provide a pathway to success for veterans returning from active duty or serving time in prison while addressing Mississippi’s shortage of skilled workers.

“Since launching the program in February, we’ve seen participants make significant progress in learning new skills on which they can build stable careers and futures,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “We believe veterans who have served their country with honor but have fallen on difficult times deserve a second chance at life, and this program is helping them become contributing members of society again.”

The 12-week program, which began Feb. 8 at MCEF’s training center in Pearl, provides tools, clothing, books and other necessities for participants along with $300 a week and job placement upon successful completion. For incarcerated veterans, funds are held in escrow until they are released from prison.

Graduates also receive level-one national credentials from the National Center for Construction Education and Research and can keep their program-issued tools and clothing.

“We are pleased to work with ‘Project Second Chance’ to offer hands-on construction opportunities,” said Merrill T. McKewen, executive director of HFHMCA. “Our team has planned a wide variety of projects to ensure maximum experience that we hope will help the veterans become successfully employed in the future.”

For their construction project, trainees will work in a warehouse located at Habitat’s office on Stonewall Street. Tasks will involve removing concrete, building sheds, framing walls and installing doors.

In the future, MCEF will seek funds from the Legislature to expand “Project Second Chance” to include plumbing, HVAC, masonry and electrical — all skilled trades in high demand.

“Mississippi needs more than 80,000 craft professionals to meet the needs of the state’s growing construction industry,” Barkett said. “We know veterans have the discipline, drive and commitment to get the job done. With ‘Project Second Chance,’ they’ll be able to learn new skills that will benefit them in the future while helping strengthen our construction workforce.”

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in 112 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 http://mcef.net.

To learn more about how to become a HFHMCA donor, volunteer or homeowner, visit www.habitatmca.org or call 601-353-6060.