At the request of the Mississippi construction industry, the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) applied to become an NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor in 1996. The MCEF board recommended NCCER craft training for secondary and post-secondary craft training across the entire state, and together, they set a goal of building and ensuring a quality workforce in Mississippi.
Today, MCEF’s NCCER craft training program oversees 200-250 craft instructors and approximately 4,500 high school students earn NCCER credentials each year. MCEF has developed an apprenticeship program for post-secondary craft training that had 309 students enrolled in 2012 alone. According to MCEF president and sponsor representative Mike Barkett, MCEF’s NCCER craft training programs have an 80% graduation rate, and it’s apprenticeship programs have a 100% graduation rate. The crafts offered are as follows:
- Sheet Metal
- Industrial Maintenance
- Construction Trades
Apprenticeship (for adults 18 & over)
- Industrial Maintenance-Mechanical
- Sheet Metal
The MCEF organization is in close partnership with industry. Organized in 1996, a coalition of construction associations joined together to establish MCEF. The nine major trade associations represented on MCEF’s board are as follows:
- Associated Builders & Contractors
- Associated General Contractors
- American Subcontractors
- MS Asphalt Association
- MS Concrete Industries Association
- MS Manufacturers Association
- MS Road Builders Association
- National Assoc. of Women in Construction
- Southern Brick Institute
MCEF also partners with the State Board of contractors, MDE, SkillsUSA® and industry to host the annual MCEF SkillsUSA® Craft Championship. Industry partners provide sponsorships, judges, project managers and exhibits. All partners are involved with the planning committee.
A common agenda of recruiting and training a quality workforce for the construction industry helped develop a foundation for this long-standing partnership. Each association has a representative on the MCEF Board of Directors. The board meets six times a year with an executive board meeting intermittently as needed. MCEF benefits greatly from having this direct tie with industry.
MCEF has a ten-year, on-going partnership with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to deliver the NCCER curriculum and credential high school students in 198 programs in 106 career and technical centers. MCEF has an additional agreement with MDE (on an annual contract basis) to monitor Mississippi’s high school construction CTE programs.
Additionally, MCEF has a partnership with the Mississippi State Board of Contractors to offer scholarships to outstanding high school seniors in construction CTE programs in Mississippi’s ATEF schools to continue their education in preparation for careers in the industry.
A common agenda with all stakeholders in industry and education has been the greatest key to success for the MCEF. Barkett also advised that programs should “communicate and communicate often” with all possible partners.
MCEF has articulation agreements with all community colleges that offer CTE construction courses for up to 32 academic hours for the apprenticeship program.
- MS Gulf Coast Community College
- Copiah-Lincoln Community College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
- Jones Community College
- Pearl River Community College
- MS Delta Community College
- Northwest MS Community College
- Itawamba Community College
- Meridian Community College
- Southwest MS Community College
- East Central MS Community College
- East MS Community College
- Northeast MS Community College
In order to establish recognition of NCCER craft training for college credit at these institutions, MCEF made the request and showed how awarding credit would benefit the student, MCEF, and the college. For MCEF, offering college credit is often an incentive for students to enroll in NCCER training and gives them the opportunity to progress. 72% of apprenticeship students indicate that receiving college credit is extremely important to them and their long-term career goals.
When asked for advice on creating college credit opportunities for NCCER craft trainees, Barkett responded, “Develop partnerships with secondary schools, state department of education, community colleges, and industry. Secure an articulation agreement and continue to communicate with high school and college CTE directors on its use.”
Each NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor has varying costs and revenue sources. For MCEF, all secondary programs are funded by an annual $600,000 grant from the Mississippi State Board of Contractors. The post-secondary apprenticeship program is set up with a tuition-based format to cover costs.
MCEF has also received several DOL training grants for training youth, underemployed and unemployed. Many of these participants entered the MCEF apprentice program to further their training and begin careers in construction.
By offering craft training directly tied to an industry-recognized credential, students are given a jump start into the construction industry. High school students who graduate from the MCEF secondary program earn NCCER Core and Level 1 credentials in their particular craft. For apprenticeship students, their NCCER credentials provide recognition in the construction industry and an advantage in the hiring process. After 17 years as an NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor, MCEF staff has continued to see that NCCER program graduates are work-ready and the courses of study are relevant and current.
Due to a long-term relationship with the Mississippi Department of Education, and purposeful partnership with area industry leaders, the MCEF has seen state-wide success for implementing and maintaining an NCCER training program. All education and industry partners came together, laid their respective individual agendas aside, and agreed on a common agenda – quality construction education.