Barbour: Changes needed
to improve workforce training
WORKFORCE TRAINING Scott Elliott, left, Meridian Community College president, talks to Haley Barbour, the chief Republican gubernatorial candidate, about funding cuts community colleges have endured the past several years. Barbour was at MCC on Monday to unveil his proposals for changes in workforce training programs. In the background is Ray Denton, director of MCC's promotion/production center. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 20, 2003
Republican gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour pledged his support Monday to workforce training, saying it needs more funding and that community colleges should play a greater role.
Barbour called the current workforce training system confusing and difficult to navigate. He said state support for community colleges the principal workforce training system has been cut $47 million.
Barbour's stop at MCC was part of a statewide campaign swing during which he stressed the need for a strong workforce training programs during stops in Meridian, Gulfport, Raymond and Tupelo.
Barbour, a Yazoo City native, is expected to face incumbent Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in the November general election after both survive August party primaries against minor candidates.
Barbour will face Jackson lawyer Mitch Tyner in the Aug. 5 GOP primary. Musgrove will face Gilbert Fountain, Elder McClendon, Katie Perrone and Cartherine Starr in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary.
Musgrove's office referred calls to Bob Rohrlack, Mississippi Development Authority executive director, who said Mississippi has been recognized as having one of the nation's top job-training programs.
Rohrlack said the federal government ranked Mississippi first in the nation in placing dislocated workers into jobs and fourth in placing adults in jobs during the budget year that ended Sept. 30.
If you're on the outside looking in, you're not going to see the system that's there,'' Rohrlack said.
But Barbour endorsed an evaluation of the state's programs. The evaluation was funded by the Center for Workforce Preparation, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.
Barbour said people who manage Mississippi's Workforce Investment Network participated in the evaluation.
Barbour said the evaluation determined that employers and people seeking job training have a hard time using the system. He said workforce training programs are more fragmented than other states.
Barbour said the state's community colleges are ready, willing and able to take on more workforce training responsibility.
Bill Crawford of Meridian, a member of the 12-member state College Board and a former executive over the workforce development program at MCC, said Barbour delivered a powerful message.
MCC President Scott Elliott, who also attended the news conference, said he was pleased to hear Barbour acknowledge the state budget cuts made to community colleges over the years.