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).