Workforce development training on the rise

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Well over 3,000 students are enrolled in traditional academic classes at Meridian Community College. But a much greater number are participating in programs at MCC's Workforce Development Center.
And the enrollment is only expected to grow.

Seven thousand people have enrolled in at least one class for the past four years.

"In the year of 2020 we're expecting 60% of all jobs to require some type of post-secondary education, and that's those middle skilled jobs," said Joseph Knight, MCC's dean of community & business development.

Knight says the middle-skilled jobs can range from occupations in the healthcare industry to industrial fields.

According to Knight about 20% of all jobs require a four-year college degree. That means the bulk of available work requires something like a two-year certification, degree or credentials. Knight says this makes programs like workforce training even more important.

"It is the wave of the future," said Knight. "The career technical side, many of our jobs have 100% placement, and that's awesome."

Knight says the lion's share of students in MCC's workforce training programs already work at local companies, and they're enrolled at MCC workforce development to improve their on-the-job skills.

"That is the most critical issue in recruiting new industry, which is, 'who is going to come work for me? Who's going to make my business successful?', said Dr. Scott Elliott, MCC president. "And you've got to make a case that you've got a well-trained workforce."

With some online classes offered, in recent years MCC had students from all 82 counties in Mississippi enrolled in its workforce training programs.

In the past four years, the Workforce Development Center has averaged more than 13,000 people enrolled in at least two classes annually.