Creating Opportunity for Hinds Community College Students

Interview with Josh Bower, assistant dean of Career and Technical Education at the Hinds Community College (HCC) Raymond Campus

The Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP) works with community college partners from across the state to create innovative apprenticeship programs that provide students with meaningful career opportunities with family-sustaining wages. These programs also strengthen Mississippi’s workforce talent pipeline by offering Mississippians a chance to learn a new skill while earning good pay. 

Hinds Community College represents the power these partnerships have in creating opportunities for individuals to learn a new skill and secure a good job. For many apprentices, these programs are life-changing.

We interviewed Josh Bower, assistant dean of Career and Technical Education at the Hinds Community College (HCC) Raymond Campus, about the college’s work with local businesses to develop and implement robust and dynamic apprenticeship programs. 

Tell us about your work at Hinds Community College? 

I serve as the assistant career-technical education (CTE) dean for Hinds’ Raymond Campus and district workforce and talent development liaison. I am grateful for this unique opportunity to work with our students, the Hinds workforce and CTE teams, and our industry partners to help implement innovative workforce solutions that strengthen our service district’s global competitiveness.   

How are you working with the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program? 

In 2017, MAP selected Hinds Community College as a pilot college for the program.  We have collaborated with MAP over the past three years to promote the benefits of Registered Apprenticeship Programs during National Apprenticeship Weeks, Pathways2Possibilities Central Mississippi events, new apprenticeship announcements programs, and signing ceremonies. 

What are some successes you’ve experienced with the apprenticeship? 

Hinds Community College has strong Registered Apprenticeship programs with KLLM Transport Services, Empire Truck Sales, and Stribling Equipment. We have more than 500 apprentices and over 200 completers from the KLLM truck driver apprenticeship program. The Hinds team is actively working with industry partners and the U.S. Department of Labor to expand Registered Apprenticeship programs. Hinds recently announced two Registered Apprenticeship programs with Continental Tire: Production Worker and Mechatronics Technician. This exciting partnership with Continental Tire will allow dually enrolled students at Clinton High School and Hinds County Career and Technical Center to compete for a Production Worker apprenticeship with Continental Tire.  After completing the Production Worker program, they will have the opportunity to apply for the Mechatronics Technician program. 

Why is apprenticeship important for HCC students? 

Registered Apprenticeship programs provide an incredible opportunity to combine classroom instruction with paid work experience. Apprentices benefit from a structured training plan designed by industries. The apprentices are assigned a mentor to provide ongoing feedback during the learning process while earning predictable wage increases based on achieving designated benchmarks. Many of our apprentices will have their tuition paid for if they complete the program. After completing a Registered Apprenticeship program, apprentices receive a national credential from the U.S. Department of Labor, stating that they are qualified for the occupation. This recognition is a significant milestone toward a sustainable career path.   

Why is apprenticeship important for Mississippi? 

Apprentices immediately earn an income while developing valuable new skills and knowledge with less college debt. This approach means apprentices have money to invest in their communities, which helps fuel the local economy. Apprenticeship programs develop a highly skilled and resilient workforce.

What would you say about an apprenticeship to business leaders who are considering an apprenticeship program as a strategy for their business? 

Registered Apprenticeship programs are an excellent recruitment and retention tool for businesses. The demand for skilled workers continues to grow both regionally and nationally. Companies must differentiate themselves to attract the talent needed to succeed in the marketplace. Having Registered Apprenticeship programs indicates to potential employees that the company is willing to invest in their long-term career goals. This investment can create loyalty and reduce turnover. Apprenticeships are also flexible. A business can tailor the on-the-job training and related technical instruction components to ensure apprentices develop the critical skill sets needed for the industry. 

What would you say about an apprenticeship to a student or job seeker who is thinking about their next career steps?  

Apprenticeships provide you with an income stream while developing the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. Apprentices have access to mentors within their companies and develop valuable relationships that can guide their career trajectories.  

For more information about apprenticeship programs, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.