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Education crucial to job growth in South

MBJ Editorial

The Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) has released a study examining the challenges workers in the rural South will face in the coming decades. What did the center’s researchers find?

Not surprisingly, education will play the decisive role in whether a worker finds a high-paying, secure job or is stuck in one low-paying, part-time, dead-end job after the other. “The Changing Nature of Work in the South: The Polarization of Tomorrow’s Workforce” asserts that as the 21st century begins, the workforce in the rural South will be divided between the two extremes. Information technology will also be an increasingly important factor.

“Jobs are declining in the manufacturing sector and humans are being replaced with technology. We will see this shape the workforce of tomorrow because workers will need the skills to use this technology,” said Dr. Bo Beaulieu, director of the SRDC at Mississippi State University.

The study found that more than half of the fastest-growing jobs will require at least an associate’s degree and seven of the top 20 will require a bachelor’s degree. What can Mississippi workers do to prepare themselves and compete for the best jobs?

“To be competitive, education is the bottom line,” said MSU graduate research assistant and report co-author. “There are plenty of jobs open for low-skilled workers, but we want the workforce to compete for jobs that will provide a secure future.”

Mississippi’s public and private colleges and universities and community colleges are an important resource for training, research and learning. In the future, it will be critical for the state’s businesses and industries to partner with higher education to build a stronger, more stable economy which offers every Mississippian a chance to succeed.

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