Hinds dean says classes could help laid off workers

Published 11:01 am Friday, September 25, 2015

Hinds Community College is expanding its workforce development and career and technical courses while incorporating a basic manufacturing skills program, something Dean of Vicksburg Warren County Campus Marvin Moak said could be beneficial to workers who might be laid off from Cameron International’s Vicksburg operations.

Cameron sent a letter to the Warren County Board of Supervisors recently, telling them the company could lay off as many as 222 workers.

Cameron was formerly known as LeTourneau Technologies.

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“It’s not specifically for the people at LeTourneau, but they are welcome to attend,” Moak said.

The new courses can help employed and unemployed people throughout the community gain new skills.

“It can help, and it will help the community and the folks who are getting laid off if they want to retrain for different areas or upgrade their skills, but I can’t say that it’s just for the folks getting laid off at LeTourneau because it is open to the general public,” Moak said.

Moak said he has not spoken with anyone from Cameron and they have no contract set up.

“At this point I have not been contacted by Cameron to do that. Now, I am more than happy to, and I would be glad to help and assist in any way, shape, form or fashion,” Moak said.

To keep up with the ever-changing workforce climate, Moak wants to give people more options to expand their skills. More night classes are being offered starting this semester for people who are employed full time and want to change their career options or improve and expand their current skills at their job.

“They can retrain for new and updated skills, or they can go into a completely new type of program,” Moak said.

New career and technical courses are currently being offered in residential carpentry, culinary arts, simulation and animation design, welding and industrial maintenance to name a few. These courses can lead to industry credentials, certificate completion or associates degrees in the nine new programs.

The basic manufacturing skills program will begin in October and is a 96 hour training program where students learn the skills they need to work in manufacturing.

Other available courses include workforce development classes, which are typically short-term, noncredit courses companies want their employees to take to learn a skill for the job.

“It allows them the ability and opportunity to take the skills they already have and update them and upgrade them,” Moak said. “They can take what they currently know and what they currently do and update it so that they are marketable for the job market.”

Colleen Hartfield, vice president for community relations and government affairs at Hinds, said Mississippi has a 35 percent skill gap for middle skill jobs, meaning there is a need in the workforce for people with more training than a high school diploma but not necessarily a four- year degree. Hinds is trying to fill the gap.

“The college is responding to that need in our state to prepare more workers for middle skilled jobs,” Hartfield said.

The class expansion was inspired by Moak’s prior work in workforce development and has been the initiative since he started work as the dean just over a year ago.

“Whenever I came over to Vicksburg, I wanted to expand the course offerings to meet the needs because we’ve got so many manufacturers and so many producers there in the Vicksburg Warren County area,” Moak said. “And I also wanted to expand the offerings of our high school career center so our students in Warren County would be able to get an associate degree right there in the county.”

Hinds is working on the dual credit enrollment program with the school district. Hartfield said they are also offering a program called My Best where students obtain their GED through adult education and simultaneously take courses in a skills certification program to widen their job prospects.