IMG_0138 (2)croppedBy Perry Nations, Vice President of Mississippi Construction Education Foundation The need for construction workforce training came to the forefront in Mississippi in 1996 when a group of contractors began exploring the idea of training their workforce for future construction needs. The idea was kicked around for several years among construction trade associations within the state, and a group of 10-15 contractors pushed to make it work. At the time, Kirk Fordice, the immediate past national president of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Mississippi, was elected Governor of Mississippi. With the support of Governor Fordice, a bill was developed to place a surcharge on each contractor license in the state and set aside funds collected for workforce development. All contractors would share in the cost, including in-state contractors who directly benefit from training and out-of-state contractors who make up 65 percent of Mississippi’s contractor licenses. In order to get the bill passed, Governor Fordice asked the construction industry to execute and fund a pilot program that showed positive results. With a loan from AGC, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Brick Industry of America (BIA), the program was initiated and became known as the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF). MCEF consisted of nine Mississippi construction trade associations, with AGC, ABC and BIA on the Board of Trustees. With the full support of NCCER and the Mississippi Department of Education, MCEF began teaching NCCER training in four counties in central Mississippi. At the end of MCEF’s first year, results were better than anyone imagined. The bill was introduced at the 1998 session of the legislature and passed by both Senate committees and the House without one negative vote. Governor Fordice signed the bill into law on March 3, 1998. The Mississippi Department of Education approved funds for the purchase of computers and books, which allowed MCEF to be implemented statewide. NCCER curricula were used in all Mississippi high schools that taught career and technical education. During its 17-year history, MCEF has introduced construction career opportunities to more than 75,000 high school students. With Mississippi community colleges adopting MCEF’s program in 2015, MCEF felt it was time, once again, to ask the legislature for help funding the added responsibilities of growing and expanding its programs to meet industry needs. This year, MCEF went to the Mississippi State Board of Contractors and the legislature to propose doubling the surcharge on contractor licenses from $100 to $200 annually. After reviewing MCEF’s accomplishments, all parties agreed the increase was needed for training Mississippi’s future workforce. This new bill was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant on April 21, 2015 and goes into effect July 1, 2015. NCCER’s curricula and online component, NCCERconnect, have been integral to training Mississippi’s next generation of craft professionals. More than 170 high school instructors across the state use NCCERconnect in their classrooms to teach nearly 5,000 students annually. Today, MCEF is recognized as Mississippi’s leading foundation in workforce development and training.

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.