ECCC: Training the next generation
Adapting its curriculum to meet a new need, East Central Community College is working with area companies on a project that should become a statewide model. ECCC has developed a new training program to help replace skilled workers lured away from their current employers by high-paying jobs at the Nissan plant in Madison County.
Nissan announced its employment standards the other day and the rush to fill these jobs could devastate the workforces at some existing companies which do similar manufacturing work. It's a classic "good news, bad news" situation but you can't argue with the desire of a worker to get the best-paying job he or she can find.
The $930 million Nissan plant is expected to offer more than 4,000 new jobs when it opens in 2003 and many of its workers will come from companies already doing business in Mississippi. The pay for industrial maintenance jobs at Nissan will average about $20 an hour, a wage most other area companies will find difficult to match.
But companies in ECCC's district which find themselves in something of a bind finding skilled workers now have a new ally. In announcing the new training program, ECCC president Dr. Phil Sutphin noted companies had asked for the help.
ECCC is establishing an Industrial Maintenance Training Program, which will be located at the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Vo-Tech Center. It is not a degree-granting program, though Sutphin said he hopes it may one day become one. Once it has started, companies will arrange to have their employees take the training.
East Central's board of trustees went out on a limb to approve an equipment purchase for the classroom. The money spent will be repaid by the state workforce training program.
In developing such a course of study and responding so quickly to a real need East Central Community College is also serving up a reminder of the valuable role of community colleges in helping train Mississippi workers.
In times of budget stress, this is an important reminder.