Meridian, Miss. There's a new effort to help train more skilled workers in our area. It's purpose is to help more locals get enrolled in apprenticeship programs. A job fair regarding this will be held Saturday in Meridian. It's sponsored by a newly formed Workforce Alliance Partnership which includes: Mississippi Power Company, Community Action Agencies such as Multi-County Community Service Agency, job trade councils from the Gulf Coast and Central Mississippi and ministerial entities.
This weekend's job fair will be the sixth that the group has held so far in the state.
"Our mission is to help those who were not able to attend college or finish college become skilled workers and gain one of the 13 union trade crafts like: pipe fitting, welding, brick laying, painting, and that type of work," says Veronica Woods, who is a project manager for Strategic Systems Incorporated.
"A lot of individuals over the last few years have gone to college and gotten degrees which is great, but now we see that there is a shortage of jobs for them to fill, but for individuals who know how to use their hands, a skilled craft or a trade, you can take that anywhere and there are a lot of jobs in this region and nationally if people have the skills," says Frank Magee, who works with Community Development with Mississippi Power Company.
Saturday's Job Fair is an informational session that is open to anyone from anywhere, this includes people who have criminal records. Those who attend are not required to take anything with them. However, the basic requirements for people who want to enroll in the free program are that they must have at least a high school diploma or GED, pass a drug test and attend an upcoming training class for safety.
For people who complete the two day OSHA training class next week at Mt. Olive Church, they will be connected with a local union in their concentration of study, and be required to take at least two classes a week until they complete their training.
"For someone who doesn't have that background they will be an apprentice and it will take years for them to get that skill, but over a four to five year period of time they can eventually earn that union card which gives them a lot of leverage when it comes to having jobs available to them," says Magee.
The Job Fair will be held this Saturday from 9 AM until 11 AM at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, which is located at 544 James Chaney Drive in Meridian. For more information on the job fair call 1-888-601-8214.