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TUPELO, Miss.  (WCBI) — For a decade, Mississippi has talked about building a better work force. Toyota, Severstal, Yokohama and other high-tech companies have sharpened the focus on starting career readiness at the youngest ages. This week, leaders in three Northeast Mississippi counties are getting their first look at a plan on how to better reach those goals.

They gathered at the offices of Tupelo’s CREATE Foundation to discuss career awareness and readiness in public schools.

“We have a lot of, I think, very good things going on, but I think clearly there are some opportunities for us to enhance what is going on, really give our students a better opportunity to understand what they want to do with their lives,” said Mike Clayborne, president of the CREATE Foundation.

It’s one of three forums hosted by Toyota’s Wellspring Advisory Committee which oversees a $50,000,000 Toyota endowment to improve education in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties.

North Carolina-based MDC consultants are analyzing programs and developing a stronger career readiness system for students.

Business leaders got their firs look at some of the details today. Employers said while technical skills are important, problem-solving ability and teamwork are just as important. And it needs to be taught from early childhood through high school.

Community colleges also need better access to current equipment and technology.

Rob Hudson is a businessman who also serves on the Tupelo School Board. He says the initiative will benefit everyone.

“Really trying to understand how the community is coming together with education and looking for opportunities to partner and do everything we can to continue to move the education system in a positive direction,” Hudson said.

Between now and November, the consultants will review local data and conduct focus groups.  Eventually, a final report will help a leadership council focus on its findings.

A community forum was held Monday night in Pontotoc. Another one is scheduled at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Magnolia Civic Center in New Albany.


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