Job Training Programs Bring Together Mississippi, Alabama Community Colleges

MERIDIAN, Miss.

Job training is coming to the Internet in East Mississippi and West Alabama.

Electrical wiring, gear drive maintenance and drill press operation are some of the skills being made available through the West Alabama, East Mississippi Alliance (WAEM), which brings together eight community and junior colleges from Mississippi and Alabama.

“These four community colleges in Mississippi and four in Alabama, and the

Montgomery Institute here in Meridian, are recognizing that the way we’ve had a big surge in job growth in Mississippi the last couple of years that pretty soon our biggest problem is going to be that we don’t have enough skilled labor for the new jobs,” Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday at the announcement.

The system, which is being described as anytime, anywhere training is being purchased from Amatrol of Jeffersonville, Ind.

Nearly 500 interactive manufacturing modules are currently available. Officials said such virtual training puts East Mississippi and West Alabama on the forefront of technology.

“We are competing globally and to compete globally, you can’t think locally,” said Bill Johnson of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, who represented Alabama Gov. Bob Riley at the announcement.

“That’s what this is about. We’ve got our states in joint partnership,” he said.

The WAEM Alliance was formed through the WIRED initiative and will use $4 million in investments to help support the training system.

Barbour said using the power of two states will help both succeed in the future.

“Alabama supported Mississippi on the Toyota plant. We supported them on the KC-30, the new refueling airplane for the Air Force,” said Barbour. “What we are trying to do now is see if we can have a project, or some projects, where they’re both in Alabama and Mississippi where we can share the project.”

Because the training is available online and can be done at a person’s own pace, there is virtually no limit to the number of workers that can be trained in a year, officials said.

“A system like this is going to help us (Selma) with an existing industry that has about 300 people. Their pay scale will be based on how well they complete the modules and go towards their advanced manufacturing credential. We have a few industries who are ready for this now,” said James Mitchell, president of Wallace Community College in Selma, Ala.

Other colleges taking part in WAEM are, Beville State Community College, Alabama Southern and Shelton State in Alabama, and East Mississippi Community College, Jones County Junior College and Meridian Community College in Mississippi.

“For our region to be competitive in the world economy, we must provide the means to develop the highly skilled work force that will be required to retain and attract jobs and industry to our region,” said EMCC President Phil Sutphin.



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