PEARL ― Two associates from the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation predict gains in the state’s workforce following a professional development program involving construction leaders from around the state.

Patrick Etheredge and Brent Bean, MCEF’s vice president of workforce development and north central area director, respectively, were among 23 representatives from 15 statewide companies and organizations participating in the recent Construction Leadership Institute.

Sponsored by Mississippi Associated Builders & Contractors, the accelerated, five-week program targeted improvements in processes and outcomes of the building industry by preparing the next generation of leaders in the architecture, engineering and construction fields.

“What a rewarding experience to connect with individuals who share similar passions for helping Mississippi grow,” said Etheredge. “We entered the course knowing no one and departed as partners committed to ensuring a brighter future for our state.”

Bean agreed.

“Our discussions during class and group collaborations provided fresh insights into our business,” he said. “We were all able to develop great working relationships that will certainly inspire initiatives that lead to a stronger workforce in years to come.”

As MCEF employees, Etheredge and Bean spend their days helping prepare Mississippians for successful careers in construction and manufacturing while promoting job opportunities in the industry. Founded in 1996, MCEF’s wide-ranging package of programs and services is supporting the growing need for traditional craft workers such as welders, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians.

MCEF is aggressively introducing middle school and high school students to craft career possibilities, enabling them to choose pathways that interest and are right for them. Meanwhile, the foundation is expanding partnerships with the state’s community colleges are creating much needed credentialing programs.

“We are proud of the remarkable progress that we are making to provide high-quality training programs,” said Etheredge. “We are prouder still of the many students who have completed those programs to become successful craft professionals.”

It’s partnerships like those born through the institute that will allow the momentum to continue, says Bean.

“By 2019, Mississippi will need more than 80,000 craft professionals to meet the needs of the state’s growing construction and manufacturing industries,” he said. “Each of us has a role to play in promoting the rewarding careers available in Mississippi’s growing construction and manufacturing industries.”

The curriculum for the Construction Leadership Institute was designed to develop and hone effective leadership and communication skills. Other segments focused on crucial professional skills such as strategic thinking, networking, negotiation, finance, construction contracts, insurance and bonding, as well as risk and conflict management.

The instructional team included building industry professionals and subject matter experts.

Participants gained the skills and experiences necessary to advance as an emerging leader in the building industry. Program participants explored innovative project delivery approaches and became attuned to emerging opportunities and challenges impacting the industry.

“The institute was extremely valuable for personal and professional growth,” said Etheredge. “More importantly, it ignited a lasting bond among participants that will ultimately create the path to a better Mississippi.”

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF Training and Education.