The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), along with an influential group of leaders from some of the state’s largest employers, have joined forces to create a program that will help Mississippi move forward to improve its workforce readiness.
The Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program will encourage and recognize students to pursue and meet specific standards in a tech-prep course of study. Their achievements will be recognized at graduation, just as the Mississippi Scholars program currently distinguishes those who pursue a college-bound study, with a particular emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“These jobs – like those at our shipyard – pay well,” said Irwin F. Edenzon, President of Ingalls Shipbuilding and Corporate VP of Huntington Ingalls Industries. “In fact, many of our craftspeople earn beginning salaries higher than a starting salary of a four-year, liberal arts graduate. As the state’s largest manufacturing employer, we have made a real commitment to encourage students to pursue work as craftspeople.”
Edenzon chairs a task force of Mississippi business leaders from some of the state’s largest employers who partnered with educational leaders in developing the Mississippi Scholars Tech Master curriculum.
Over the last two decades, Mississippi has evolved from a low-skill, low-wage job state to what is more commonly known as a middle-skill economy with well-paying jobs. These jobs require effective communication skills, solid basic math skills and the ability to think creatively and carry out multiple tasks in a progressive manner.
The Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program is managed by the Public Education Forum of Mississippi and will use the Mississippi Scholars distribution channel and network to quickly ramp up the program. In order to achieve this recognition, students must commit to meeting standards in curriculum, performance and citizenship. Becoming a Mississippi Scholars Tech Master graduate will help students qualify for college, military and good jobs with benefits in today’s competitive workplace.
This year, the program will pilot in seven counties – Bolivar, Jackson, Jones, Lincoln, Madison, Panola and Union. However, over the next five years, new counties will be added to the network.