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College provides on-the-job training, educates employers

The workforce is a combination of the people who are working and the people who are available to work. Developing skills is an important part of an individual’s career success, and a skilled workforce is integral to the local economy.

“We help people get skills,” Co-Lin Workforce Center Director Stephanie Sullivan said. “We’re in a time right now where if you do have a trade, you can make a lot of money. Career tech at Co-Lin — at any community college — is there to train up students who want to learn that trade. There’s a lot of demand for that.”

On Friday, Copiah-Lincoln Community College hosted a luncheon at Hurst Review Services in Brookhaven and spoke to an audience of local business leaders, school administrators and politicians.

Sullivan, along with Co-Lin Program Coordinator Kenny Goza and Workforce Coordinator Jimmy Giles with the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, attended the event to educate local business about the workforce training services available to them — services paid for by taxes payed by Mississippi businesses.

“Mississippi is actually one of the few states that actually runs workforce completely through the community college system,” Sullivan said. “It’s set up that way because Mississippi has one of the best community college system in the nation, where every county rolls into a community college.”

Pat Lowery, CEO of Hurst Review Services in Brookhaven, spoke for a bit about the businesses experience with the Lincoln County workforce. Hurst Review Services is a company that helps nursing students pass the National Council Licensure Examination. The business was founded by Marlene Hurst in 1988. When she decided to scale back the business in 2008, a business approached Hurst Review Services about a buyout. When the business refused, they were told that it wouldn’t be feasible to scale the business in Brookhaven.

“They said we would not be able to find enough talented people to do what you want to do here,” he said.

At least in part, Lowery said, that turned out to be true. Hurst Review Services has scaled their business in Brookhaven, but Lowery said they’ve had to compromise and hire some positions from out of state. But of Hurst Review Services, Co-Lin has been instrumental in addressing their workforce issues.

“Sometimes, when you don’t have those people coming in and applying, you train them up,” he said. “That’s what Co-Lin Workforce Development has been an integral part of doing with us.”

Workforce programs include on-the-job training, registered and non-registered apprenticeship programs, internship and an individual training account scholarship. In addition to industry standard training for certifications, Co-Lin also offers customized training tailored to specific business needs. To take advantage of these services, local businesses are encouraged to contact the college.