DRA, Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi Economic Leaders: Reimagining Workforce Development is Key

September 08, 2014

Workforce Summits Bring Together Key Stakeholders and Thought Leaders on Workforce Development

New $1.7M Investment in Workforce Development Will Build Local Capacity & Strengthen Links between Education, Needed Skills, Workers and Jobs  

CLARKSDALE, Miss. – Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and States’ Co-Chairman Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant today announced new efforts to reimagine workforce development initiatives across the region, calling it a necessity to overhaul how Mississippi trains workers and connects the hardworking people of the Delta to the jobs of the future.

The workforce summit comes just weeks after the Governor and the Delta Regional Authority announced a $1.7 million investment into strengthening and enhancing the area’s training programs. Regional leadership also in attendance at the day-long summit included Jay Moon, CEO and president of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Representative Chuck Espy, of State District 26, and Senator Robert Jackson, of State Senate District 11, as well as economic, education and industry partners. 

“Just like the flow of the Mississippi River, the Delta economy is constantly changing – and our workforce training needs to change with it. Working with our partners, we are committed to overhauling how we train our workers and connect our people to jobs of the future,” Chairman Masingill said. “This initiative is aimed at strengthening our workforce, encouraging lifelong learning, and increasing the standard of living in the region.”

The $1.7 million funding program—known as the Reimagining the Delta Workforce Development Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Fund—will provide competitive funding to local communities and partnerships to train local leadership in planning and implementing a workforce development system that supports a pipeline of workers trained with skills to acquire jobs available in their community and attract new jobs to the Delta region.

“A trained workforce is always the most important factor in the decision-making process for a company when looking to locate to a new place,” Governor Bryant said. “This investment into the Mississippi River Delta will go a long way to continuing our efforts of providing quality workforce training and is a great opportunity for area job seekers.  The Mississippi workforce will continue to be competitive nationally when it comes to meeting the needs of companies.”

The series of summits follows the release of the 2013 Report on the Future of the South: Re-imagining Workforce Development. The comprehensive report acknowledges that the recession has amplified challenges in the Delta and identifies an increasingly competitive talent pool, changing life-cycles, and the rapid pace of the global marketplace as the driving forces behind the shifting workplace environment. 

“There has been a major change in the composition of the workforce in the Delta in recent years,” said Ted Abernathy, author of the report Re-imagining Workforce Development and managing partner of Economic Leadership LLC. “The distribution of jobs today is very different than a just a few years ago, and it is not just jobs that are changing but the skills required to do them as well.”

The report outlines three key recommendations: reimagining readiness, reengaging adult learners and disconnected youth, and realigning relationships and resources. Additional recommendations identified in the report include strengthening the connection between education and job skills, advancing online learning opportunities and certificate programs, and creating a culture of lifelong learning from early childhood through adulthood. 

“Encouraging everyone to have the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace is vital to creating an environment where not only workers, but businesses can thrive,” said Jay Moon, CEO and President of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.  “We look forward to working with the Delta Regional Authority to make our workers and our businesses increasingly competitive, and ultimately, successful.”

The Mississippi Workforce Development Summit is part of a series of Reimagining the Delta Workforce summits that are occurring July through October in the eight-state Delta region.  The DRA’s Reimagining the Delta Workforce Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Fund is now accepting applications via funding.dra.gov. For more information and the Notice of Funding Availability for the funding program, click here.

Photos for media use available at this link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3w35s91wp0but9j/AAAyO5ySNY1mbMLWYsyFzZ0Ma?dl=0#/.

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Contact: Spencer Lucker
slucker@dra.gov, 202-434-4842