From the classroom to the workforce,skilled laborers are vital in area businesses

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- From the classroom to the workforce, skilled laborers are essential for area businesses.

Benefits, opportunities, and quality of life are what it takes when it comes to retaining workers. Laborers need to have those options.

But it’s also vital for businesses to have qualified workers.

” Everyone needs workers right now. Restaurants need workers and hospitals need workers, and industrial manufacturers need workers. Everyone needs workers right now,” said Whitaker.

Look at recent numbers.

From 2020 to 2021, unemployment in Mississippi rose from 5.6% to 6%.

County-by-County, Lowndes County has 6.2%, Oktibbeha County has 5.9%, and Clay County has 7.7%.

That all affects an area’s ability to grow.

Macaulay Whitaker is the Chief Operating Officer at the GTR Development Link. She says workforce development has been the focus in the Golden Triangle for the last eight years.

” There has been a large number of movements both large and small in the Golden Triangle to help in the workforce pipeline. A big example is Communiversity. That’s a big project we put together to make room for the pipeline and the throughput of individuals we knew we would need to feed our local employers and our prospective companies,” said Whitaker.

The GTR Development Link has also become an ACT Work-ready Certified Community.

” Those are efforts for consultants to see is a third-party verification for our community that we’ve developed the necessary partnerships and gone through the processes to strengthen our workforce pipelines,” said Whitaker.

It impacts K-12 schools, university campuses, and skilled workers.

And when it comes to keeping workers in Mississippi, there are a few items on the checklist.

” Brain drain is a whole state effort. It does take things in a correction like providing great opportunities so students and individuals can set their goals towards positions and careers here in the state.”

Whitaker said retention isn’t only for students in grade school or universities.

It’s at all stages of life.

” Looking at our labor force, the people that are actively participating, and the people that can participate, we are going to have to shift our focus in attracting people to the workforce. Whether it’s from out of state or in the state or just down the street,” said Whitaker.

So before you consider a profession across state lines.

” We encourage anyone when they’re looking to leave to make sure to they’ve looked where they are for whatever that is. If you’re searching for something, do a thorough search in your hometown, in the towns right outside where you live. Places 30 minutes to 2 hours,” said Whitaker.

For more labor data in your area, go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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