Get a Smart Start to Your Future

Author: Bronwyn Robertson
Program Specialist for Workforce & Employer Engagement
Mississippi Community College Board

The job market in the U.S. and Mississippi continues to evolve and become increasingly more competitive. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated local economies and left thousands of Mississippians without jobs. The current economic environment makes it even more critical for people to take steps to gain the skills and education to secure in-demand jobs in our state.

Mississippi continues to have a gap in people qualified for middle-skills jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. Mississippi’s 15 community colleges have programs to help close this gap and get people into careers as electricians, dental hygienists, paralegals, health technicians, and many others.

In addition to gaining the skills needed to compete for these rewarding and family-sustaining careers, workers should also focus on ramping up their soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, conflict resolution, flexibility, and problem-solving.

The Smart Start program equips students with vital career readiness skills and industry-recognized credentials that increase employability.

Smart Start students participate in a 45-hour intensive course that teaches them how to apply their specialized skills beyond the classroom and gives them an opportunity to complete the National Career Readiness Credential (NCRC). The NCRC signals to employers that a person has the essential skills for workplace success no matter what career path they choose.

Smart Start and the NCRC are making a tremendous difference for Mississippi’s workforce. Since 2016 more than 6,200 Mississippians received Smart Start credentials and over 8,600 NCRC’s were issued. Students who enroll in Smart Start are also experiencing significant progress toward earning a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSE).

Smart Start students earn an HSE at triple the rate of students who do not enroll in the program.

You can learn more about how these programs are strengthening Mississippi’s workforce and ensuring more people have the skills they need to secure meaningful employment by listening to my interview on the ACT Ready to Work – Workforce Development Podcast.

If you are interested in starting your career journey, email us today at skillup@mccb.edu. We look forward to connecting you to a program in your area.

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