PRCC Workforce Training Classes make a difference

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 18, 2014

PIPEFITTING STUDENTS: From left, Cody Owen and Brent Gray practice their pipefitting skills under the watchful eye of their instructor, Joel Dickens. Jodi Marze | Picayune Item

PIPEFITTING STUDENTS: From left, Cody Owen and Brent Gray practice their pipefitting skills under the watchful eye of their instructor, Joel Dickens.
Jodi Marze | Picayune Item

Pearl River Community College has expanded their Workforce Training Class offerings to include electrical and plumber’s helper programs.

Classes are held in the Career Education Building on the Poplarville campus. Classes meet Monday through Thursday.

The next session for welding, electrical and plumber’s helper will begin on May 19. Pipefitting will begin on June 2.

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Workforce Training Project Manager Cheryl Frierson said the welding program has been offered for years, but a request from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, for pipefitters put a whole new perspective on the program’s potential and the ways it could benefit community members seeking employment.

Frierson said the program offers extremely qualified instructors, satisfied employers, and happy students who leave the program gainfully employed in most cases.

Frierson said that Ingalls management will visit the PRCC campus with their human resource personnel to administer tests. Those who pass the test are usually hired on the spot.

“Over 80 percent of our students are placed upon completion of their course,” Frierson said.

Fred Howell, director of talent acquisition for Ingalls, said, “We have been incredibly pleased with the quality of the students that Pearl River Community College has turned out. We have experienced a steep hiring increase and we rely heavily on the junior college programs in Mississippi for talent. PRCC has done an outstanding job in preparing shipbuilders.”

Welding instructor Leland Kennedy and pipefitting instructor Joel Dickens are proud of their students, who currently range in age from 20 to 48-years-old.

The instructors say that most of their students are currently employed, but want to better themselves. Many work full-time jobs so they take the night classes. They know after they finish their training they will have access to more career options.

Brent Gray, 38, of Picayune, works in a shale support services plant and Cody Owen, 20, of Lumberton is an unmanned aircraft instructor at Camp Shelby. Both are pipefitting students in the training program.

Welding student, Cindy Holland, 42, of Hattiesburg, works as a payroll clerk.

All three students say they took their respective class to better themselves in some way.

Class enrollment requires a drug test and tuition assistance is available.

PRCC Vice President for Economic and Community Development Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, said, that the faculty and PRCC staff are maximizing the college’s job creation potential by offering educational programs in high demand occupations.

“This is a national trend and Pearl River is on the forefront of this concept, which is bolstered on the national stage by data from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce indicating that a majority of the jobs for the future will require degrees and training commonly offered at the community (college) level,” he said.

The college chooses curriculum that includes nationally recognized credentials.

“This gives students mobility and flexibility when seeking out jobs,” Alsobrooks said. “Team members also work closely with local and regional employers to help place students.  Student success is of the utmost importance, and at the end of the day, students in these short term, intense work preparatory programs are here to bolster their earning abilities.  All of our team members take pride in helping program graduates get that first job and start their career.”

For more information, contact Gloria at 601-403-1241.