Brighter Futures Begin with HOPE.


June 5th, 2012

At first, the idea of employers building worker skills might sound a bit outside the norm. Aren’t workers supposed to receive training before employment to prepare? But when employers promote training among their existing workers it can increase retention and efficiency and create an environment where entry-level workers move to more advanced positions and higher wages.

Workplace training is not a new concept for many Mississippi employers. Some employers develop their own training programs while others partner with community college or other private entities to provide training. However, a brief by the Working Poor Families Project suggests that state-level and employer policies can do more to foster training of existing workers and yield benefits for both low-income workers and businesses.

Entry-level, low-skilled adults may lack math or literacy skills that, when strengthened, result in a more prepared and confident employee.  By providing workplace education, with the help of instructors from local colleges or training providers, employers can increase basic skills with content related to the employee’s day-to-day responsibilities. As workers progress, they also become prepared to take on more advanced training.

Why does workplace education matter in Mississippi? A large portion of Mississippi workers would benefit from increased literacy and math skill development. Over 13% of Mississippi’s workers lack high school equivalency and a total 43% haven’t taken courses beyond high school.¹ In total, 180,000 Mississippi adults between 25 to 54 years old never received a high school degree.
To equip more working adults with the skills needed to advance themselves and their employers through workplace training, Mississippi should explore several of the recommendations in the report including:

  • Promote workplace training as a key part of industry-focused training partnerships.
  • Target additional public funds for workplace education programs for literacy and basic skills.
  • Adapt community college policies to accept credit for learning experienced on the job. Colleges can evaluate worker skills and award college credit that would shorten that worker’s path to a credential that has value to the employer and themselves.
  • Develop incentives for both employers and employees to participate in workplace training and market the value of the practice to both groups.
Author: Sarah Welker, Policy Analyst
¹State of Working Mississippi 2012. Mississippi Economic Policy Center. January 2012.

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