East Mississippi Community College Stands Ready to Help Workers Brush Up on Skills

A $200,000 grant at East Mississippi Community College is expected to benefit local industries. The school will use the money for training to improve the skills of workers already employed at manufacturing companies. An apprenticeship program at East Mississippi Community College will allow businesses to get their employees in-class training to improve or speed up their work on the job.

The school’s WIOA Director of Career Services, Greta Miller, said EMCC stands ready to help area workers brush up on their work skills. “Our students need to work and they need to work quickly and often times they have to choose between work or training or school and so what we’re trying to do is find different path ways for people to do both,” said Miller.

EMCC was awarded the grant in early August and launched the program on September 1, 2021. The next step it getting companies to partner with them.

“Partnerships are really unlimited depending on what our employers need. A big focus of ours for this grant is trying to help our employers that have current employees, but they need a little additional training to upskill and go on to the next stage of their career,” said Miller.

Miller said the grant money can be used in a variety of ways for employees coming to expand their knowledge of their job. “The Mississippi Apprenticeship program actually gives us a good bit of flexibility to take care of what people might need. We will potentially help people with tuition, we can help them with wrap-around services which could be child care it could be even fuel cards or something like that it really is person dependent,” said Miller.

Businesses big or small are welcome to partner with the college and take their workers to the next level in their careers. This not only helps the company and school but the student/employee as well. “From an employee perspective, it can be a valuable training that it really doubles up and helps drive some points home that maybe you might not remember if your job comes six months after the training or after you’ve learned something,” said Miller.

Any business in the surrounding six counties is encouraged to reach out to EMCC by calling Greta Miller at (662)-243-2659.

Welcome to the Team: LaShonda

LaShonda Barnes joined the MAP team on November 16, 2021 as an Apprenticeship Expansion Specialist. Her target area for apprenticeship expansion will be the Mississippi Delta region. This area’s key industries consist of agriculture and manufacturing. She will work diligently to collaborate with other workforce entities in the region such as the local Workforce Development Board, area community colleges and universities, and the local chambers of commerce.

LaShonda comes to MAP from the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS) where she worked as a Business Development Representative. In this capacity, she was able to successfully establish relationships with various businesses in Hinds and Warren Counties. Through these relationships, she was able to secure employment opportunities for Mississippians with disabilities. Prior to her work as a Business Development Representative, LaShonda served as District Manager with MDRS’ Office of Special Disability Programs.  In this role, she led a staff of case managers and assistants to provide services that allowed Mississippians who were at risk of nursing home placement with services to ensure their ability to live safely and independently in their homes and communities. In total LaShonda brings to MAP nearly 10 years of experience in state government.

LaShonda believes apprenticeship programs add to a vibrant workforce development culture in Mississippi by its ability to provide a more diverse workforce.  Having had prior experience working with an underserved population, LaShonda hopes to use this experience to positively impact those populations, specifically people with disabilities. She plans to provide more access to the workforce through apprenticeships by establishing apprenticeships that are inclusively designed to better accommodate individuals with disabilities. She hopes to collaborate with MDRS to help meet this goal. Furthermore, LaShonda hopes to bring increased awareness of apprenticeships to break down misconceptions and the stigmas that often surround apprenticeships through public engagement.

Her passion for serving others and drive to make a difference makes her an excellent addition to the MAP team. More than anything, LaShonda looks forward to being able to give someone, who likely otherwise would not have an opportunity, the chance to achieve more through apprenticeships.

Robin Stewart speaks on National Apprenticeship Week, 2021

On behalf of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES), I proudly take this opportunity to salute those participating in National Apprenticeship Week 2021, as we celebrate finding new ways to build the future of workforce in the nation. 

As a leading state workforce agency in Mississippi, MDES joins with the Apprenticeship community in promoting the benefits of Apprenticeship.

MDES houses the MDES Office of Apprenticeship and the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program; therefore, facilitating Apprenticeship partnerships through our community colleges, businesses, and industries is at the forefront of our objective and critical to our mission.

In closing, thank you to the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program, our community college sponsors, and the Mississippi companies participating in Registered Apprenticeship programs around the state. May you continue to progress and see increases in career achievements and development. As we move closer to the year 2022, collectively, we will ensure that Apprenticeships, locally and nationally, remain constant in the transformation from jobs to future careers.

Congratulations on your success!

Robin Stewart, MDES

Robin Stewart serves as Interim Executive Director for the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES). She has over 30 years of experience working at MDES. Her previous experience at MDES includes serving as Deputy Executive Director of Workforce Programs and Services, Director of the Office of Job Connections, Area Director, and WIN Job Center Manager. Stewart attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Administration.

State Apprenticeship Expansion 2020 Grantees

MAP is excited to announce the newest grant award recipients for the State Apprenticeship Expansion 2020 grant (SAE). MAP is continuing its long-standing sponsor community college partnerships with Hinds Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and Pearl River Community College. East Mississippi Community College is a first-time apprenticeship grant award recipient. Each community college sponsor was awarded $200,000 to continue the work of creating, retaining, and expanding registered apprenticeship programs in Mississippi.

“We are looking forward to working with and through our community college sponsors and our MAP Team to partner with business and industry to grow and promote registered apprenticeship in Mississippi”, said Dr. Tonya Neely, Director of MAP.  “As of June 30, 2021, there are 3,012 total apprentices in the state. MAP will continue to provide key support for apprenticeship programs at community colleges, and has promoted economic empowerment and created more opportunities for our community college partners.”

Registered apprenticeship programs offer a variety of benefits and have been proven to help enrich the workforce, by increasing the number of skilled employees and by offering businesses critical resources, such as on-the-job training and classroom instruction, to educate their staff. These programs represent a variety of fields that enable our state’s residents to earn a living way while learning a new skill.

For more information about registered apprenticeship, MAP, or our sponsor community colleges follow, like, and click the links below. View the original announcement here.

Website: https://msapprenticeship.works/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ApprenticeMS/

Twitter: Mississippi Apprenticeship Program @ApprenticeMS

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/msapprenticeshipworks/

MAP Supports Crews and Ferrell in Launching Their First RA Program

Brittany Crews with Crews, Ferrell, and Associates Inc., and Brittany Morris, Apprenticeship State Expansion Specialist at The Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP), speak on their collaboration, and an exciting new apprenticeship opportunity.   

“Our partnership with MAP began in August of 2021,” Crews says. “ MAP has helped us develop our curriculum and standards for each craft that we hire and train. MAP has created opportunities not only for partnerships but also for developing coursework and building a solid foundation for our training program.” 

MAP also assisted with implementing and creating the new Registered Apprenticeship (RA) program, in a five-stage plan that included exploring work process training, reviewing technical instruction, and determining what occupations to employ in the program to ensure maximum employee preparedness and retention. Brittany Morris worked directly with Crews on this plan.

“It is important as a specialist to help the company develop their RA program by identifying the occupation and its skillset needed on the job site,” Morris says. “In a cohesive manner, MAP works with the company to seek their long-term goals of apprenticeship, determine the program’s payment structure and wage progression, and also determine how classroom and on-the-job training will be delivered based upon the model of apprenticeship.”

With MAP’s assistance, Crews was able to launch their RA program within a month’s time. Focused on building talent along the Gulf Coast, the program offers on-the-job training and classroom instruction to participants with job skills focused on providing labor to shipyards along the Gulf Coast along with construction and maintenance. The program is unique in that it provides support for non-traditional students such as individuals who were formerly incarcerated. 

“Our RA program provides on-the-job training plus classroom instruction utilizing NCCER’s curriculum,” Crews says. “We hire and train people from all backgrounds of life. To help reduce recidivism along the Gulf Coast, we focus many of our resources on hiring and training formerly incarcerated individuals. In partnership with nonprofits such as Planting Healing, we can assist our participants in receiving additional services such as mentoring, records sealing or expungement, and treatment for addiction.”

Participants can also earn income while completing their coursework, obtain college credit hours, or receive financial aid for related instruction if partnered with a community college. There are also resources available for participants in need of paid transportation or daycare.

“Related instruction can be offered through partnerships with community colleges such as MGCCC, which allows participants to apply for financial aid. The curriculum we use for our RA program can be transferred for 30 credit hours toward a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Professional Trades Administration at Capitol Technology University,” Crews says. 

“Participants can apply to our RA program with no experience or transfer a skill set or coursework toward earning their apprenticeship faster,” Crews continues.“Depending on the participant’s level of experience and progression in the program, pay ranges from $10-$19.85 per hour.”

The education, resources, and services provided by Crews’ RA program work to increase the number of skilled workers around the coast, while also providing long-term employment for apprentices. Crews hopes to continue to support participants deemed to be “at-risk” due to socioeconomic barriers and looks forward to creating more partnerships with nonprofits and organizations that can supply additional resources for this demographic. 
For more information about the program, visit www.ShipyardLabor.com or call (228) 222-4820. Interested in creating an apprenticeship program for your business? Visit our website to get started.

Northtown Pharmacy Teams With MAP for Success


A dynamic independent pharmacy has opened at  6220 Old Canton Road. Dr. Andrew Clark is the pharmacist and owner of Northtown Pharmacy in the heart of bustling northeast Jackson. One of Northtown Pharmacy’s founding principles is offering the personal customer service and patient care that large chain pharmacies can’t provide. The pharmacy’s new partnership brokered by Brittany Morris of the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP),  has formed the perfect tandem to serve the community.

As the MAP Apprenticeship State Expansion Specialist, Morris recognized an opportunity to partner with Dr. Clark. The expansion specialist developed a plan to grow his business and provide opportunities for vocational training as a direct line to specialized employment that bolsters economic growth. She used a holistic approach to skillfully research pharmacies to assure the most strategic placement and curriculum for Northtown’s unique business needs. According to Clark, “Northtown Pharmacy was established to address patients’ issues that I had observed, that were well documented, and not addressed by the “Big Box” pharmacies.” With the assistance of apprentices from the RA program, Northtown will be uniquely positioned to reach this goal.

Morris and Clark thoughtfully assessed the hours and competencies/tasks dedicated to completing the program that best fit his store’s needs. Dr. Clark chose the Pharmacy Technician position, the pharmacy technician will help Dr. Clark prepare and dispense prescriptions. They will also engage customers in personable and meaningful ways that inspire customer loyalty.

The pharmacy is dedicated to serving families in the community. It offers flu shots, Covid-19 vaccinations, helps patients manage their medication therapy, synchronizes their medicines, and delivery services.  The store also has a gift shop with whimsical gift ideas and many local products.  

As part of the healthcare team, well-trained pharmacy techs are vital to patient care and wellness. Overall, Northown’s apprentice experience will include on-the-job training and related technical instruction. A pharmacy tech with enhanced skills from an intense curriculum and real-world experience will give Northtown Pharmacy sustainability and the tech a viable career with a secure income. According to Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Upwards, a pharmacy technician can earn up to $17 an hour.

Dr. Clark weighed all these considerations when he decided to partner with MAP. Knowing that Brittany Morris took the time to research the pharmacy profession as well as the retail component of the dispensary, his confidence in the program grew immensely. “As a business owner, I am excited about partnering with MAP because of the vast amounts of resources that are readily made available to my business that will help enable us to secure quality individuals to train and employ.” 

For apprentices, the experience will be rigorous but rewarding. Morris explains that “Northtown’s Pharmacy Apprenticeship Program will be a one-year program for all Pharmacy Technicians Level I and II consisting of 2000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of related classroom instruction. Once complete, students will be eligible to complete/pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The apprentices will be able to build rapport and loyalty with Northtown Pharmacy, in return, the pharmacy will be able to have a skilled workforce and retention as these are beneficial factors of Registered Apprenticeship.”

Dr. Clark knows firsthand the importance of on-the-job training and a supervisor who recognizes talent. “As a young pharmacist, I became a pharmacist manager three months after graduating from pharmacy school. I had worked many hours as a pharmacy intern and knew the pharmacy systems and standard operating procedures. The pharmacy market supervisor was confident that I would do well as a manager.…

I managed a pharmacy in Vicksburg, MS, a pharmacy in West Jackson off Ellis Ave, and later moved to manage a “Big Box” pharmacy Clinton, MS.”

In addition to training a skilled worker and developing a path to economic security for the pharmacy’s apprentice, Dr. Clark wants his apprentice to soak in every bit of knowledge they can from him as an experienced pharmacist. He also wants them to cultivate a desire to serve. “To learn to appreciate the honor it is to serve others while helping to improve their health and quality of life.”   

Independent businesses are integral to the local tax base and Mississippi’s economy. As the owner of Northtown Pharmacy, Clark takes the responsibility of training his program participants very seriously.

Dr. Clark says, “I believe that there is no substitute for experience.  The opportunity to learn from someone that has come before you and is currently working in an occupation that you desire is an invaluable opportunity.” 

For opportunity seekers, a stable income and financial security are within reach through MAP’s RA program. The registered apprenticeship program is ideal for those considering a career change or increasing their chances for meaningful employment.     

Clark encourages any business interested in participating in the program to contact MAP. Don’t hesitate. The benefits to your business and the influence you can have on the future as a mentor are tremendous.

Specialist Morris shares his enthusiasm and says, “I wish Dr. Clark great success in implementing his registered apprenticeship program to enhance the quality care of Jackson, Mississippi. I hope students will build rapport and longevity in the pharmacy industry through their curriculum and training.”

Follow Dr. Clark and Northtown Pharmacy’s progress at:

The FACEBOOK page has the same name as the website. 

Instagram: Northtownrx

And follow the Mississippi Apprentice Program at:

Instagram: https://instagram.com/northtownrx?utm_medium=copy_link

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/msapprenticeshipworks/

Twitter: @ApprenticeMS

Welcome to the Team: Carolyn

Carolyn Green, one of MAP’s newest team members, is excited about her role with the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program. Carolyn will serve as the Technical Assistant for MAP’s Workforce Integrated Performance System and Reporting Modules.

“In my role”, Green says, I will manage the Registered Apprenticeship (RA) data system in MS Works.”

She is looking forward to being a part of the MAP team and be able to provide services to aid many participants in getting a head start towards their career path.

Green’s previous work experience includes working at the Mississippi Department Employment Security (MDES) as an ES Technical Support Specialist III for the Office of Grant Management. She also spent time as a liaison for the Opioid Grant Program. In this role, she provided services for Disaster Relief Employment, Career and Trainer, and supportive services to Opioid-Abuse-Affected clients in the targeted counties referred by Mississippi’s Drug Courts.

When asked what motivates her about her new job, Green had this to say:

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with such a great team that’s working towards making a difference by helping communities strive for a better future through the Apprenticeship Program.”

Celebrating Phillip Duke

We’re celebrating veteran apprentice, Phillip Duke and his new role as Pearl River Community College’s Manufacturing and Apprenticeship Specialist. Duke began his 40-year career in manufacturing from a qualified apprenticeship program, and now works to ensure others have access to the same opportunities. Listed below is a press release detailing Duke’s exciting new position. This press release was originally featured on PRCC’s Facebook page. Check out their website for more information on their latest workforce training programs!

Duke joins PRCC Workforce staff Manufacturing and Apprenticeship Specialist

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Apprenticeship veteran Phillip Duke has joined Pearl River Community College’s Workforce Development team as a Manufacturing and Apprenticeship Specialist.

In his first months on the job, Duke, 64, has begun meeting with local manufacturing companies to determine what specific workforce training they may need, help coordinate that training, and promote apprenticeships.

“Being involved with apprenticeship has benefitted me throughout my career,” said Duke. “Serving in an apprenticeship led me to a higher paying job and retirement, it provided a means to train employees when technical colleges were not meeting the need, and now I’m promoting apprenticeship to companies in and around Hattiesburg.”

A Vicksburg native, he has worked more than 40 years in manufacturing and recently retired from Kasai North America (Tier 1 supplier of automobile parts to Nissan and Toyota Motor corporations) as of December 2020. He was employed there for more than 18 years before finishing his tenure as general manager of tool & die and maintenance.

“By trade, I am a tool and die, maker,” said Duke. “I served two four-year apprenticeships early in my career, the first for mold making at Vicksburg Mold & Die and the second for die making at Precision Machine in Ridgeland in the early 1980s.”

He also worked in central Mississippi throughout the ’80s and ’90s for several manufacturing companies as a tool & die, maker.

Apprenticeships have been a big part of Duke’s career. An apprenticeship is a method of technical (OJT) training with additional structured learning activities sponsored by an employer for a set number of hours for a particular trade such as machinist, pipefitter, electrician, or welder. 

Apprenticeships are supported by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. It is a real job, so you can earn a wage while you learn and become fully trained in your chosen occupation by the end of the apprenticeship.

“Phillip brings unparalleled experience in manufacturing and apprenticeship to our workforce team. His knowledge and experience will serve a critical role for us as we provide services in conjunction with the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP) and the Mississippi Manufacturing Association-Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MMA-MEP),” said Rebecca Brown, PRCC’s Dean of Workforce and Community Development.

“We have a very strong workforce team at PRCC. Phillip’s unique background further enhances our ability to collaborate with and train for local businesses.”

 According to Duke, there are other benefits to the apprenticeship program for students besides developing professionally. Apprentices learn with a guaranteed wage increase as they achieve training milestones defined by a clear set of standards approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. There is clarity about exactly what objectives an employee needs to achieve to receive the associated benefits for reaching those goals.

At the completion of the apprenticeship, a national certificate is issued to the employee that is recognized throughout the U.S. and held in high regard in manufacturing.

Added Duke, “I know it will be a challenge but with my past experience in manufacturing I look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Duke is based in the Woodall Center in Hattiesburg but serves all six counties within PRCC’s district. He can be reached at 601-554-5514, or by email: pduke@prcc.edu

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit PRCC.edu and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats)  Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS) and Facebook(@PRCCMKTG).

The Benefits of Hiring Qualified Veterans

Recently, our nation celebrated Independence Day, which highlighted the many sacrifices veterans have made in their duty to protect the nation. July also features National Hire A Veteran Day, which is a holiday celebrated on July 25th that is dedicated to supporting veterans who are seeking employment.

In celebration of our nation’s independence, and in recognition of National Hire A Veteran Day, we’ve dedicated this article to exploring the variety of ways employers can help support veterans who may be re-entering the everyday workforce, and what resources are available for veterans.

When searching for competent employees, employers can count on veterans to be proven leaders, innovators, and maximizers. Veterans’ time on the front lines, combined with their formal training, organization, and sense of duty makes them the perfect additions to any team.

Every year, approximately 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service and return to life as civilians, a process known as the “military to civilian transition”. It’s important for employers to post their job listings in places veterans can find them, and also to describe “competency-based” characteristics in job descriptions, instead of specific years of experience. This will allow service members transitioning into the workforce a chance to apply.

Like other employees, veterans may be interested in learning new trades or starting on new career paths. In this case, registered apprenticeship programs (RA) are essential, as they provide a solid foundation for both employees and employers to build on when establishing work culture, job skills, and workplace competency.  

The Mississippi Apprenticeship Program offers a variety of resources for employers to use in starting a RA at their business. And veterans make for ideal apprentices, with higher retention and commitment to their positions and the keen ability to work under pressure.  

Aside from apprenticeship programs, many veteran job programs in Mississippi are administered by The Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) and are in offices known as WIN Job Centers. WIN Job Centers are one of the best resources for Veterans seeking employment in the state, as these centers service veterans first, provide support for job outreach, and offer on-site employment services such as one-on-one resume writing, job preparation assistance, and workshops.

MDES also offers veteran-specific services which include job training, job education, and rehabilitation services. It’s important for employers and veterans to look into these resources and to stay informed on what opportunities are available.

To all the veterans – Thank You for Your Service!

For more information on online services for veterans, go to: www.careeronestop.org/.

For more information on veterans’ services offered by MDES, visit:  www.mdes.ms.gov.

On Registered Apprenticeships: An Interview with Tyra Harrien

Tyra Harrien, MAP’s Administrative Assistant at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC), speaks on the importance, value, and benefits of her work. Harrien also gives useful tips to employees and employers that are looking to utilize the many advantages offered by registered apprenticeship (RA) programs. 

“I am the MAP administrative assistant so I do a lot of work behind the scenes.” Harrien says about her work, “I make sure that the classes and the materials for the apprentice are up and running and available.”

Harrien says that registered apprenticeships are “critical” to workforce development because they offer apprentices a way to learn “certified skills” while also earning a living wage. 

“Apprenticeships grow the economy by making American businesses more competitive,” Harrien says. “Having a registered apprenticeship program at your company, workers know in advance the blend of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Several companies have documented that registered apprenticeships have helped them to increase recruitment, increase retention, and reduce their overall training costs.”

Harrien’s work with MAP and MGCCC  is to help promote registered apprenticeships across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which can help improve the state’s economy. 

“The plan is to meet with more companies across the Gulf Coast and to help them understand that apprenticeship programs can help grow and flourish their company.” Harrien says, “Expanding apprenticeships in Mississippi can help address the economic challenges that Millennials face.”

To companies and employers looking to invest in registered apprenticeships, Harrien says the benefits of RAs include more skilled employees, reduced turnover costs, and increased employee retention.

Registered apprenticeship programs also offer a variety of benefits for employees. RAs are affordable and effective ways to explore a new career path, deepen your expertise, or sharpen your skill set.

To individuals looking to join a registered apprenticeship, Harrien had this to say: “If you are dedicated and want to better yourself just do it.”