The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation recently unveiled its new career training center on June 1, marking a new era that builds upon a 20-year history of creating a stronger, better-prepared workforce for Mississippi.

The celebration began at 11 a.m. at 5165 Old Brandon Road in Pearl, where the state-of-the-art facility built specifically for adult craft learners was introduced. Joining special guests Congressman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves were business and education leaders, national training representatives, members of the community and those who have benefited from MCEF’s influence. 

In addition to serving as one of the state’s largest training centers for career and technical professionals, the new facility will house MCEF’s state headquarters. There, trainers will prepare Mississippians for successful careers in construction and manufacturing while promoting job opportunities in the industry.

“It’s always been our dream to open a center that features a wide range of training opportunities under one roof,” said MCEF President Mike Barkett. “We’re confident this new facility will help boost our state’s economy while leading to investments in technology, entrepreneurship and innovation.”

During the launch, MCEF officials shared details of the foundation’s renewed focus that comes after years of helping strengthen Mississippi’s workforce. Recognized nationally for its achievements, MCEF excels in training and credentialing at multiple levels, including high school career and technical, adult craft professional/apprenticeship, skill upgrade classes and outreach training.

“We’re in a good position right now,” said Barkett. “Our accomplishments provide the necessary momentum and framework to ensure that Mississippi’s workforce is stronger and better prepared for the future.”

Spotlighting Mississippi’s need for more than 80,000 craft professionals by 2019 to support the state’s growing construction industry, Barkett said that MCEF is making sure those jobs are filled by qualified Mississippians who are credentialed in their respective crafts.

With the opening of its new center, MCEF stepped up its efforts to support the growing need for traditional craft workers such as plumbers, HVAC technicians, welders, carpenters and electricians. The foundation also expects to build on its position as a national leader to create additional learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Barkett noted that needs within the construction industry are always changing, but never more than today.

“Until recently, the construction industry suffered a technology bypass, relying on centuries-old processes and procedures to manage complex modern projects,” said Barkett. “Today, the same software applications that make manufacturing industries efficient are being deployed in building construction.

“To be successful in this environment, we must all be aware of emerging opportunities while providing the necessary resources to prospective workers,” he said. “Each of us has a role to play in promoting the rewarding careers available in Mississippi’s growing construction and manufacturing industries. The stakes have never been higher.”