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Moving workforce training to a new level in Mississippi

MBJ Editorial

Last week, Gov. Haley Barbour signed two pieces of important legislation into law — House Bill 973 and Senate Bill 2710. Since outlining his intent to revamp workforce training in Mississippi, the governor has worked with business and industry leaders, the state’s community college presidents and legislators to craft a plan to reform and streamline how programs are funded, as well as delivered.

“Our goal is to create an aligned, demand-driven public workforce training system that sustains, develops and grows new jobs for Mississippi workers,” said Barbour. “We also want to provide employers an available, consistent and skilled workforce, and offer a clear path to individuals seeking their first job or a better job.”

The Mississippi Comprehensive Workforce Training and Education Consolidation Act of 2004 (HB 973) merges the State Workforce Development Council, which oversees state workforce dollars, with the State Workforce Investment Board, which oversees federal workforce dollars. The new State Workforce Investment Board will be appointed by the governor, speaker and lieutenant governor.

“This will reduce duplication of services and provide more ‘bang for the buck’ on every dollar spent on workforce training,” the governor explained.

In addition, the new legislation consolidates workforce development and training in the state’s community college system, which has a long, successful track record in delivering meaningful training to Mississippi business and industry. HB973 will also transfer the Mississippi Employment Security Commission into the executive branch. Senate Bill 2710 is designed to encourage private enterprise job training by tripling the amount of the job training tax credit and creating a $2,500 per employee tax credit for companies providing training activities for their employees.

“Consolidating workforce training activities within the state will result in a more efficient and cost-effective method for delivery of workforce training activities and education while eliminating duplicate activities,” Barbour said.

Mississippi’s future depends on a skilled workforce competing in the global marketplace. Continuously improving the state’s training system, both the programs and the funding of them, is critical. We’re confident that the governor’s plans will take workforce training to a new level.

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