RIDGELAND — The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) has completed the first statewide online adoption of the standardized, competency-based, industry-driven NCCER construction and manufacturing curricula since its inception as the Wheels of Learning almost 20 years ago.
The NCCER curriculum and its online NCCERconnect component are integral parts of a curricula for training the state’s new generation of construction and manufacturing craft professionals to meet the industry’s workforce development needs. Over 170 high school instructors statewide who teach construction and manufacturing career and technical courses will use the NCCERconnect program in their classrooms to teach almost 5,000 students annually. To ensure optimum utilization and a smooth startup, this summer all instructors completed virtual on-line training as well as a workshop in Jackson.
“Every high school construction and manufacturing student in Mississippi will usher in a new era of training beginning this fall and winter to include core curriculum, carpentry, electrical, HVAC and welding — with a customized version of NCCERconnect being developed for unveiling in January,” said William Underwood, Pearson’s executive director of NCCER Programs and MCEF’s partner in the statewide launch.
Mike Barkett, MCEF president, added, “The online system places Mississippi on the cutting edge of education and workforce development for the construction and manufacturing industry and its future workforce.”
The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) joins MCEF and Pearson as a partner in spearheading this huge technology leap for the state’s high school career and technical (CTE) programs.
Jean Massey, associate state superintendent of education, believes that having NCCERconnect for construction and manufacturing students in Mississippi will greatly increase the ability of the classroom teacher to bring quality instruction to students.
“The use of this technology will allow teachers to differentiate instruction in the classroom and therefore increase the amount of time the students will have to practice the skills needed to be successful in the workforce,” Massey said. “Preparing students to the highest level so they can exit high school with the skills and knowledge to obtain additional education or enter the workforce is the goal of CTE education. In using NCCERconnect, teachers can better prepare students to meet this goal.”
Mike Mulvihill, head of career and technical education at MDE, added, “In order to fully instruct the students of the 21st Century, teachers need to have access to every tool possible. NCCERconnect allows instructors to reach today’s digitally oriented student in the most cutting-edge way possible. By adding NCCERconnect to textbooks and “hands-on” relevant learning, MCEF students will be fully prepared to take on the challenges of today’s workforce.”
MCEF, the state’s NCCER accredited training sponsor, has placed the NCCER training curriculum in the construction and manufacturing CTE programs in the community colleges, in its four-year career track apprenticeship program in partnership with over 70 contractors and institutions, and in the high schools as part of its School-to-Work enabling legislation.
The launching of the statewide online component of construction and manufacturing completes the education cycle which includes classroom knowledge, hands-on skills, and now technology-driven independent student learning.
Barkett said, “We believe the main benefits of online instruction are three-fold in that it (1) helps to ensure career and technical education students are better prepared to enter the construction, manufacturing, and energy workforce, (2) facilitates actual learning because students can advance at their own pace and even work at home on their computers to supplement classroom study, and (3) allows instructors to move the class forward rather than waiting on some students to catch up or moving too fast in order to accommodate the accelerated student.”