PEARL ― October is National Careers in Construction Month, and the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is taking steps to raise awareness of opportunities among industry and education leaders while introducing students to rewarding construction careers.

Spearheaded by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and declared by Gov. Phil Bryant as an official, month-long observance in Mississippi, the annual initiative includes a broad range of partners aggressively working to combat shortages of craft professionals across the country. 

“Professional trades are among the highest paying and fastest growing jobs in the U.S., yet companies are struggling to fill these positions because of a shortage of qualified employees,” said MCEF President Mike Barkett in a news release. “We want to position Mississippians for success by raising awareness about opportunities in construction and the role that modern career and technical education programs play in college and career readiness.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction occupations are projected to grow 11 percent through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also reports that nearly 200,000 construction jobs in the U.S. were unfilled at the start of 2019 — a trend that’s being felt in Mississippi, Barkett noted.

Throughout October, MCEF will celebrate Careers in Construction Month by inviting the public to discover the work it is doing to create a more promising future for all Mississippians.

“We believe that the more Mississippians know about career and technical education, the more likely they’ll speak positively about construction and manufacturing careers in their communities,” said Barkett. “When more parents, school leaders and employers become knowledgeable about the rewards of career and technical education, there's a good chance that more young people across Mississippi will pursue careers in construction and manufacturing.”

Technology drives today’s top careers, from engineering and health care to computer science and construction. Modern CTE programs allow students to gain hands-on experience with the latest technologies in real work environments. By the time they graduate from high school, they have impressive résumés on which to build.

Students’ credentials also are portable. CTE programs in Mississippi follow standards set by NCCER, meaning students’ training and credentials are recognized by construction and maintenance industries worldwide.

MCEF continues working with the Mississippi Department of Education and a statewide coalition of business and industry partners to ensure that CTE centers maintain NCCER certifications and provide high-quality training and education programs that give students a foundation for lifelong success.

“It’s a fact that CTE students have higher graduation rates than non-CTE students,” Barkett said. “They’re motivated by clear goals and being able to make significant progress on a career or college track during high school. It’s an approach that’s gaining momentum as more and more Mississippians discover the long-range value of CTE.”

Chambers, schools, civic clubs, churches and other groups interested in hosting a conversation about career and technical education opportunities in their area are encouraged to contact Barkett at



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