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Co-Lin lab to offer job training classes

Chamber of commerce and Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegeofficials say a work force training lab in Brookhaven will providesmall business employees with computer and job-related skills tohelp their employment situations.

The Mississippi Learning Lab is in the process of being set upon the city’s parking lot near the government complex. The lab is ajoint effort between the chamber of commerce and IndustrialDevelopment Foundation, Co-Lin, Entergy and the city.

“It has the potential to have a real positive impact on ourexisting work force,” said Chandler Russ, executive vice-presidentof the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

The lab was moved onto the city site this week. Dr. BillyStewart, dean of community services at Co-Lin, said computers needto be installed and some other work done before classes can begin,hopefully in mid to late July.

In the interim, Russ said businesses will be contacted to seewhat types of job-related skills are needed.

“We’ve got to do some surveys to see what types of courses willbe offered,” Russ said. “That’s our next step.”

Stewart said the school’s goal is to offer classes thatbusinesses and citizens need and want.

“We want it to be community driven,” Stewart said. “We wantlocal citizens to tell us what they’d like to see.”

While larger employers like the Wal-Mart Distribution Center andDelphi-Packard can populate a class when employees need to learn anew job skill, Russ said small businesses with few employees willbe the focus of the training lab effort. For daytime classes, Russsaid as few as two or three employees will be needed to hold aclass while an evening class would need eight to 10 students.

The classes, which will be free of charge for area businesses,residents and chamber members, will not be limited to just computertraining, Russ and Stewart said. They mentioned interpersonal or”soft skills” such as customer service training, language classes,supervisor-related skills, public relations skills and conflictresolution techniques as possibilities for the lab.

On the computer side, Stewart and Russ said Co-Lin has receiveda $24,000 grant from the State Board of Community and JuniorColleges to install new equipment in the lab. The lab will have 10student computers and one instructor computer, Stewart said.

“The employees will be working with state of the art equipment,”Russ said, adding that the grant will help with a varietycomputer-related course offerings. “Pretty much, anything they canteach at Co-Lin, software based, they can teach here.”

Russ said chamber officials will be working to publicize the laband its capabilities toward work force development. He wasoptimistic the lab would be beneficial during its time inBrookhaven.

“We’ll have the lab there at least a year, if it’s beingutilized, potentially longer, but at least a year,” Russ said.