Community college hosts skills training for jobs not requiring 4-year degree

The Skills Foundation of Mississippi is sponsoring a new campaign called 'Skills That Pay,' aiming to increase awareness of high-paying skilled jobs in energy, manufacturing, and healthcare.

The initiative comes on the heels of a US Chamber of Commerce projection that there could be a 'massive shortage of skilled workers' in 2023.

The Skills Foundation of Mississippi is sponsoring a new campaign called “Skills That Pay,” aiming to increase awareness of high-paying skilled jobs in energy, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Clifton Carroll, Executive Director of External Affairs at The Skills Foundation, told Campus Reform, “[O]ur goal is to educate Mississippi students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders on the many high-quality, good-paying careers in key industry sectors that are obtainable without a four-year degree.”

Pearl River Community College in Poplarville hosted the announcement of the “Skills that Pay” campaign in early February, according to WDAM7.

The initiative comes on the heels of a US Chamber of Commerce projection that there could be a “massive shortage of skilled workers” in 2023. 

This shortage is despite the fact that plumbers, automotive technicians, and other vocational professionals can earn nearly six-figure salaries, as Campus Reform has previously reported.

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More than half of Mississippi’s labor market requires skills training, but far fewer than half receive post-secondary education, according to a 2017 Hope Policy Institute analysis, making “Skill That Pay” ever more important for the state.  

The campaign in the Magnolia state, however, follows a nationwide push to provide vocational training as an alternative to a four-year degree

Maryland, Utah, and Pennsylvania, for example, have all dropped four-year degree requirements for many state jobs.

In Mar. 2022, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced “the launch of a multi-pronged, first-in-the-nation workforce development initiative to formally eliminate the four-year college degree requirement from thousands of state jobs.”

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox followed in Hogan’s footsteps, announcing in December the same year that he would drop degree requirements for most state jobs.

Governor Cox said in a press release about the decision that “eliminating bachelor’s degree requirements will broaden access to qualified talent and expand employment opportunities to attract diverse candidates, including underrepresented groups.”

Paralleling those governors, Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania then dropped 4-year degree requirements for state jobs, opening up jobs 65,000 jobs, according to his Tweet about the initiative earlier this year. 

In addition to the work of the Skills Foundation and state governments, the federal government is also joining efforts to promote vocational skills.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and The Workforce, recently implored Congress to amend the Pell Grant to include funding for workforce training programs. 

Carroll, a “proud graduate of Ole Miss,” says that the “Skills That Pay” campaign is not meant to “disparage” four-year institutions but does serve as a great way to get Mississippians to work in “high-value career[s].” 

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The outcomes of advancing skills training are twofold, both closing skills gaps between workers and in-demand jobs and steering students away from four-year universities that propagate radical leftist ideologies and under-educated students.

Higher Education Fellow Nicholas Giordano argued that colleges have not adequately prepared students for the workforce, and instead of a degree, technical skills are more valuable.

“When considering options for education after high school, too many parents and students shy away from community college. For years, academic snobs have denigrated these institutions because they believe the quality of education is inferior,” Giordano wrote in a Nov. 2022 op-ed. 

“It has been referred to as the ‘13th grade’ and ‘not real college,’ discouraging those who may benefit most from attending a community college.”

PRCC was contacted to provide comment, but did not provide information related to PRCC’s involvement with the foundation. This article will be updated accordingly.