Gov. Reeves wants to see more Mississippi students entering “lucrative, blue-collar professions”

A recent report from NPR found members of Gen Z don't seem interested in trade careers, like...
A recent report from NPR found members of Gen Z don't seem interested in trade careers, like carpentry or plumbing. Gov. Tate Reeves wants to change that in the Magnolia State.(Storyblocks)
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 4:37 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves wants the members of Mississippi’s future workforce to know all their options. And he’s proposing using $16 million in general funds to do it.

Reeves’ plan, which was included in his FY2024 legislative budget proposal, would double the number of career coaches working in state schools from approximately 80 to 160. That would put at least one career coach in every school district across the state, with special efforts directed toward low-income areas.

“For years we’ve worked to effectively communicate the higher education options available to students. Now, we need to expand the presentation of alternative career paths,” Reeves wrote on social media Friday morning. “Our nation is run on the efforts of people like welders, plumbers, and electricians. We are driven by mechanics and supplied by truckers. Mississippi and the nation need more to enter these lucrative, blue-collar professions.”

Just this week, NPR published an article titled, “America needs carpenters and plumbers. Gen Z doesn’t seem interested”. It cited data from online recruiting platform Handshake showing the application rate for young people seeking technical jobs — like plumbing, building and electrical work — dropped by 49% in 2022 compared to 2020.

South Mississippi is home to many industrial companies, including the state’s largest employer, Ingalls Shipbuilding. And while most have teams dedicated to getting the word out about career training opportunities, like the Ingalls Apprentice School, there are still many students across the state that may not get that message.

Reeves hopes more career coaches can change that.

“These coaches are helping connect Mississippi students with the wealth of career and technical education opportunities that exist after high school,” Reeves wrote. “In school, many students are focused on the present, so it becomes all the more important that we help to shepherd our students into meaningful careers beyond graduation.”

In the 2022 legislative session, $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding was allocated toward career coaches. This funding, which is administered by Accelerate MS, has been used to deploy career coaches in 51 counties across Mississippi.

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