ELLISVILLE — There are numerous threads that connect programs at the Jones County Junior College (JCJC) Career Resource Center (CRC) to the students and businesses served throughout the eight-county JCJC region. But bottom line — the number one goal — is to create and retain quality jobs in the community, says Gary Suddith, director of the CRC/assistant dean at JCJC.
“We want to create new jobs, and retain those jobs,” Suddith said, a MBA graduate who was formerly vice president of sales for a Fortune 500 company in the eastern U.S. “We want to develop jobs that aren’t just here today and gone tomorrow.”
Suddith said the CRC’s vision is to provide a seamless, team approach to meeting the educational and training needs within the area served by JCJC by promoting the economic development of a well-trained workforce. At the same time, students are being prepared for success in school, on the job and in life.
“CRC personnel work together as a team to improve training or consulting to individuals and businesses in our district,” Suddith said. “In order to maximize resources, the CRC relies on the Jones Junior College faculty, equipment and physical facilities for most of its training programs.”
The counties served by the CRC include Jones, Wayne, Covington, Jasper, Smith, Greene, Perry and Clarke. Some of the prominent companies in the area who partner with CRC for training include Georgia Pacific in New Augusta, Sanderson Farms, South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel, Burlington Industries, a garment company in Clarke County, and Howard Industries in Laurel, the largest transformer company in the U.S.
Future training will be enhanced with a new technology park south of Ellisville that is being planned which will include a JCJC Advanced Technology Center for workforce training.
“It will house three functions: workforce training for businesses, technical training for the forestry industry and information and technology training,” Suddith said. “We received more than $2 million in grants from National Science Foundation for information and technology transfer, which includes computer networking and telecommunications’ training.”
The industrial training programs provided by the CRC are grouped into three major categories. 1. Pre-employment training and employment certification programs designed to provide training for prospective employees. 2. Upgrade training to improve current worker’s skills as a result of changing technologies in the workplace. 3. Licensed program training courses such as the ISO 9000 process quality program, Zenger-Miller supervisory skills and team dynamics courses, and required safety programs such as CPR and blood-borne pathogen classes.
In addition to company-specific training, the industrial training team also coordinates non-credit training workshops for the general public.
Last year the industrial training team provided training to 52 different companies. The projected annual sales to JCJC training partners is more than $2 billion with an annual payroll of $500 million for 20,000 employees.
“The CRC recently completed a survey of the companies using this training,” Suddith said. “One of the most important questions was, ‘Would you use the Junior College Career Resource Center again?’ The response was 100%, ‘Yes’.”
Comments received from the surveys included:
• “Due to JCJC cooperation, the overall training function has been improved and the skill levels of over 250 employees has improved.”
• “Jones Junior College has been cooperative and professional in their dealings with us over the years, and we appreciate this working relationship.”
• “Great cooperation, excellent service, good relationship formed.”
The workforce development team consists of George Politz, a certified quality examiner for the State of Mississippi, Shannon Campbell, an industrial engineer with experience teaching workshops in statistical process control and quality who is also a quality examiner for the state, and Paul Johnson, who has a background in industrial engineering and is also a quality examiner for the state.
JCJC also has a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) that is a cooperative program of JCJC, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the State of Mississippi. The SBDC provides free one-on-one counseling to individuals who want to start or expand a business. In 1998 the SBDC helped clients obtain $8 million in capital for starting or expanding businesses resulting in $24 million in net sales, the creation of 212 jobs and the retention of 181 jobs.
Another program, assessment and placement, provides occupational information and career diagnostic assessment to help students identify compatible work occupations, formulate career goals and locate employment. Kay Keeton, personal development specialist, teaches workshops and seminars on topics such as stress and time management, problem solving, conflict management and r