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Governor’s Workforce Conference Focuses on Improved Training

By Sandra Knispel | Published 15 Nov 2010 01:17pm | comments

The 2010 Governor’s Workforce Development Conference in Tunica is running through Wednesday. As MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports, retraining may the best option for many of Mississippi’s unemployed.

It sounds simple enough. You have a job opening, you post it, and then weed through stacks of applications. But despite a statewide unemployment rate of close to 10 percent, some employers have a hard time filling their vacancies. Stan McMorris is the chief operating officer of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security...

“If you look at advanced manufacturing, Mississippi still has a long way to go," McMorris admitted. "We’re making strides in that area and we’re emphasizing those areas, but we’re still trying to build the skill base for getting those types [of] jobs.”

Almost 75 percent of Mississippi’s working-age adults do not have a post-secondary degree, according to a recent study by the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. That means that several sectors in Mississippi cannot find the enough people to hire, among them healthcare, advanced manufacturing and high tech industry.

“A skilled trained workforce is essential if we’re going to be successful in coming out of the recession and being able to provide quality jobs for our workforce in the state," McMorris said.

Standing outside the Win Job Center in Oxford, 31-year old Jonathan Patton says he’s been looking for employment for almost a year and a half now. In the past he’s worked in factories and as a cook.

“It’s really difficult. I mean, the way the economy is right now it’s hard trying to find a job," Patton said.

Patton said he’d started looking into extra training, especially to have a shot at a job at the new Toyota plant in Blue Springs.

The conference in Tunica focuses on how local communities can work with business and industry to help train the highly-skilled workforce that’s really needed, including teaching people like Patton new job skills necessary to compete. Sandra Knispel, MPB News.

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