MCEF Urges Craft Workers to Learn While Earning

As the construction industry boom continues across Mississippi and the nation, there’s no better time to be a trade professional than now. That’s the message the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is sharing statewide during National Apprenticeship Week.

Throughout Nov. 13-17, the nationwide observance celebrates the work of business, labor, education, and other critical partners to boost registered apprenticeships that bring success and value to America’s workforce. Of significance are their efforts to address challenges such as re-building the economy, advancing racial and gender equity, and supporting underserved communities, including accessible opportunities for persons with disabilities.

“Professional trades boast some of the highest paying and fastest-growing jobs in the U.S.,” said MCEF President, Brent Bean. “Unfortunately, due to a shortage of qualified employees, companies are struggling to fill these positions. However, through events like National Apprenticeship Week, we are taking proactive steps to raise awareness about opportunities in the construction industry and the critical role that apprenticeship training programs play in career development.”

According to ApprenticeshipUSA, 90% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship program retain employment with an average annual salary of $80,000. DOL also reports that registered apprenticeships provide a viable career path for everyone, including women, people of color, and individuals with disabilities — creating opportunities that will move Mississippi into the future.

An Associated Builders & Contractors study reports there is a 546,000+ gap in craft professionals across the country which directly affects the needs of Mississippi’s growing construction industry. It is MCEF’s mission to directly impact this shortfall by promoting careers, helping develop capable individuals, and training a quality workforce for the construction industry.

There are five key components that differentiate apprenticeships from other types of workplace training programs: competitive wages from employers while learning, on-the-job experience, classroom instruction, nationally recognized credentials, and guidance from seasoned mentors.

Approved by the Department of Labor, MCEF’s apprenticeship program trains and prepares craft professionals in four trades: electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and sheet metal. Students must work for an approved employer to be accepted into the four-year programs, which includes a total of 576 hours of classroom instruction and 8,000 on-the-job training hours. Students work during the day and take classes at night to achieve their goals on time while getting paid.

Not only can students discover different career tracks and make valuable industry connections through MCEF, but graduates can also take apprentice certificates to a community college and earn up to 32 academic credit hours toward an associate degree. Students reflect a variety of career journeys and include high school graduates, specialists who are preparing for licensing exams, and craft professionals who are interested in learning a new trade.

“By promoting our apprenticeship initiatives not just this week, but every week, we are confident that we can help position Mississippians for success and effectively address the shortage of skilled workers in this field,” said Bean.