MAYHEW — Adult basic education students at East Mississippi Community College who are working towards earning a high school equivalency diploma can simultaneously take the Manufacturing Skills course, dual enroll in a career technical program or take advantage of other new programs that are now available.
Grants are available to pay for associated costs for the programs and students even get paid incentives for completing coursework.
“Never before has there been more opportunity for adult education students,” EMCC Adult Basic Education Director Jim Bearden said. “There are more choices, options and benefits than there have ever been. We are in a new era when it comes to adult basic education.”
Some offerings, such as the Smart Pathway program, came about as a result of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) regulations which, among other things, require that students earning a GED or high school equivalency diploma also be taught necessary skills.
Last July, EMCC implemented the Smart Pathway program, in which students are resume building, how to dress for an interview and best work practices that includes showing up on time and fostering a team atmosphere, among other things.
“It is a brand new program,” Bearden said. “When students come in to get their high school equivalency diploma, they are enrolled in Smart Pathway, which lasts for four weeks. We are going to get that component done right off the bat.”
Students also have the option of entering the MI-BEST (Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) program, in which they can earn college credits or credentials while concurrently working on their GED.
Students can earn up to five college credits for enrolling in the Manufacturing Skills certification program, which is a good fit for those planning on entering a trade such as welding, electrical technology, industrial maintenance or mechatronics.
Students in Manufacturing Skills are taught Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, precision measurements, blueprint reading, high performance work systems, quality assurance, communication, leadership and teamwork, to name a few things.
“We teach them to be prepared to go into these local industries and work,” Manufacturing Skills instructor Jim House said.
Students in the MI-BEST program can also take: Business & Office Technology, available at the Golden Triangle campus; a noncredit Workforce Manufacturing Skills class at the Golden Triangle, Scooba and West Point campuses; or a noncredit Certified Nursing Assistant program available at both the Scooba and Golden Triangle campuses. A one-semester Utility Lineman course is also available at the Scooba campus.
High school equivalency classes are available at in Clay, Kemper, Lowndes and Noxubee counties.
The adult basic education courses are not just for students working towards earning their high school equivalency degree though. Ackerman resident Jerry Miller, 27, and Starkville resident Zackary Hatchett are both high school graduates who are enrolled in the MI-BEST program and are taking the Manufacturing Skills course. Both men are also employed.
“I would like to try to get on at Yokohama (Tire Manufacturing Mississippi),” Miller said. “By taking advantage of the opportunities here at EMCC, my hope is to get a better job so I can provide for myself and my son.”
Hatchett too felt it was time for a change.
“I was pretty much tired of the day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck existence,” Hatchett said. “I saw the opportunity to better myself at EMCC and took it. I am shooting for the stars to see how far I can get.”
Providing students the skills needed to land a better job is what MI-BEST is all about, program Navigator Jeremy Tate said.
“The greatest asset of MI-BEST is that it provides elevation to your situation,” Tate said. “It takes those in need of a high school equivalency from a state of being helpless and hopeless to showing them they can do it. Those who already have their high school diploma can get training in an area such as Manufacturing Skills where then can go from making minimum wage to earning $12 to $18 an hour at a manufacturing plant.”
All the programs are available at no cost to students. EMCC’s Adult Basic Education department issues vouchers that cover the $85 to $120 cost for students to take the GED or new HI-SET test, which is available as a paper test or a computer-based test.
In addition, students who earn their high school equivalency diploma are paid $200 through the MI-BEST program. They are also paid an incentive of up to $125 for earning their WorkKeys certification. Tuition costs for eligible programs are also covered while students are enrolled in the MI-BEST program.
“We are really excited about the services we can now provide to our students,” Bearden said. “It is a new world in adult education at East Mississippi Community College.”
For more information about EMCC’s Adult Basic Education programs, call (662) 243-1985.