A conversation with Love about developing the Holmes workforce

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Melissa S. Love is one of two Workforce Development Coordinators at Holmes Community College in Ridgeland. She and Angela Crain, also Workforce Development Coordinator, work together to serve Madison, Ridgeland, Gluckstadt and Madison County.

Love grew up in the Mississippi Delta in a farming family. She graduated from Northwest Rankin High School in 1999, attended Holmes Community College at Goodman, and received a BA from Delta State University, where she majored in graphic design. She is completing a Masters in Community Development from Delta State.

She worked for seven years in the communications office at Holmes Community College before moving with her husband to Little Rock, Arkansas, and was employed as a graphic designer at a bank’s head office. She returned to work at Holmes Community about three and a half years ago as a Workforce Development Coordinator.

Love is a member of the Madison County Junior Auxiliary.

What is workforce development?

“Workforce development training includes first and foremost non-credit training which is pre- and post-employment training. It is designed to provide contract training in a credit-free format for individuals and businesses.

“We can train workers on new equipment and new processes and train workers who need to progress to higher positions within their company or company. We also offer on-the-job training so that employees can learn skills to be more effective or efficient. ”

Do all Mississippi community colleges have workforce training coordinators?

“Most, if not all of Mississippi’s community colleges have workforce training coordinators. Governor Tate Reeves created the State of Mississippi Workforce Development and named it Accelerate MS. Ryan Miller is the Executive Director of Accelerate MS.

“The community college council and the community college system report to this office. We adhere to its policies and procedures. Labor grants are facilitated by the community college system.

What role does workforce development play at Holmes Community College?

“We are working with businesses and industries in our district to improve the skills of their workers. The courses are designed to meet the specific training requirements of a business or organization. A company can call us and say, “We need training for this or that,” and we’ll do our best to meet their needs and help them understand how to meet their needs. ”

Do businesses or industries have to come to your campus to use workforce development training?

“Some will. They will have on-site training and use our trainers or programs on their property.

What workforce development opportunities at Holmes Community lead to employment? Can you name some examples?

“Our goal is to make sure everything ends up in jobs. Almost everything we do is the result of partnerships with employers in our region. There is a logistics company called Capstone which is a warehouse and a supplier for Nissan. They send people out for forklift training before they start their shift. After successful training, the individual can start working.

“Our forklift training course is outdoors and subject to the elements, but some of our virtual training equipment is housed indoors and there is a virtual classroom.

“We have partnerships with electric cooperatives such as Yazoo Valley Electric in Yazoo City. We have a power line technician school on our campus in Goodman. Lately we’ve had 100 percent placement because it’s competitive. This is a workforce training program that an individual can take and be employed.

“We have a partnership with MMC Materials and we train people to operate and drive a concrete mixer truck. If an individual succeeds in this, he or she can go to work for MMC, depending on the needs of MMC at that time.

Are you going to contact Amazon, which is opening a distribution center in Madison County, about workforce training?

“We will definitely approach them. Amazon has their own training department, but we’ll let them know what we can do anyway.

“We have had a relationship with Nissan from day one. We have trained the workforce on site and we have partnerships on their site. All around the Nissan plant are suppliers and warehouse companies for the plant and we help and serve them as well. ”

Are you still trying to establish new partnerships with companies?

“Yes. We are always looking for a niche that has not yet been filled. If there is a certain training program that is not readily available, we could meet that need.

“On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there was a story about the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College creating a diesel technology program. They were able to create one because there wasn’t one around. They built it from the ground up as a workforce development training program.

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Are there opportunities to help displaced workers who may have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic?

“We’re here to help, but we’re not their first step on the path. We are here to help them. Their first stop should be a visit to a WIN job center or to msworks.com. Often times, we’ll be on our way back to someone’s job.

How do you connect with the business community?

“We work in a network with companies. The Madison County Economic Development Authority hosts a quarterly human resources roundtable and we are an active participant in it. It pays to meet with new businesses and business owners in Madison County and get feedback.

“We try to stay informed about local industry events, different labor markets and different employment trends.

“We send out newsletters by email. We use social media, our website and our network to publicize the tailor-made training available to businesses. ”

How to find trainers for the tailor-made training offered to you?

“What we’re going to do is play detective and research the training needed.” I looked at the posted job descriptions and used them as leads. I used LinkedIn.

“We have a library of training manuals. This department has been around for a long time and there are many resources to consult and tap into.

“I’m always on the lookout for new people who could join me and bring their skills as trainers in a unique way. If I meet someone who has a unique skill, who knows how to weld or drive a forklift, or who is recently retired, I will remember that. It is contract work.

How does an employer communicate with a workforce training coordinator?

“They need to determine which community college in their district would be closest to serve them, then contact that community college and identify a workforce training coordinator. For someone from the Madison-Ridgeland area, it would be myself or Angela Crain.

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Are technical career programs at community colleges part of workforce training?

“Technical career programs are not part of workforce training. Sometimes our space shifts to the technical side of the career. We work with people from 17 years old.

“Sometimes they just want training for the workforce, but someone may want to complete their degree if they’re missing a credit or two. We gladly refer them to a counselor and they discover opportunities they didn’t know existed.

“At Holmes, we have a culinary school, massage therapy school, competitive nursing program, industrial mechanical and maintenance technology, occupational therapy technology, and welding and cutting technology. We have a new heating, air conditioning and ventilation program with new equipment. We have it on the Goodman campus and we are adding it to Ridgeland.

“On the academic side, there are different avenues that could lead to a four-year degree or someone could get an associate’s degree. A person may want to get a GED and we have it. We have specialist instructors who can help people who need a bridge between the world of work and academia.

Does your communication experience help you in your current role?

“Yes. I’m a sociable person. I like being able to communicate and network with people and network and be able to create flyers and materials to promote our courses and what we do. I can create email newsletters. and distribute them.If I need to write something, I’m comfortable doing it too.

What do you like about your job?

“I love that the possibilities are endless and that we can help the industries in our communities be the best they can be and help our communities shine. ”


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