Miss. school gets $2.3 million grant to train barge deck hands

The following is the text of a news release from Hinds Community College:

(RAYMOND, Miss.) — Hinds Community College is receiving nearly $2.3 million in a U.S. Department of Labor grant as part of a larger nine-college, eight-state consortium for community colleges along the Mississippi River. The grant project is aimed at expanding targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade.

The Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Consortium member colleges will use the grant to help advance economic development in the Mississippi River region, from the headwaters to the Gulf, including placement of dislocated and other workers in high-wage, high-skill occupations in the vital transportation, distribution and logistics

“I am pleased that Hinds Community College will have additional resources with which to support the job opportunities associated with industries that depend on the Mississippi River,” said U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who signed a letter in support of the consortium application.

The total grant for the Mississippi River Transportation Consortium, being led by Lewis and Clark Community College in Missouri, is worth $23.8 million. It’s part of the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training grant program, a multi-year nearly $2 billion initiative.

“Acquiring this TAA grant will help the college facilitate river barge training as well as OTR (over the road) truck driver training for Mississippi-based industries that provide hundreds of high paying jobs in the transportation sector,” said Dr. John J. Woods, Hinds Community College vice president for Economic Development and Workforce Training.

“This grant will help provide new employee training for several expanding transportation companies including Golding Barge Line in Vicksburg, and the KLLM Transports Services, LLC, in Richland,” Woods said.

Hinds’ Raymond Campus already has a partnership with KLLM Transports Services, LLC, to train truck drivers. A new barge deck hands training program will be based at Hinds’ Vicksburg-Warren Campus near the Mississippi River and will be modeled on the trucking program.

“This grant is perfectly in line with what we’re doing in our truck driving program,” said Dr. Chad Stocks, assistant dean for career-technical education on the Raymond Campus.

Stocks said the Hinds’ dollars will go toward getting the curriculum established for the barge deck hands training program, strengthen partnerships with industries and establish the internships that will lead to permanent employment for both the barge deck hands and truck drivers.

A key component of this grant is to incorporate stackable credentials.  The students will earn a Commercial Drivers Licensed, stacked with a career certificate and new curriculum will be developed for an Entrepreneur package to prepare graduates to become owner operators. These three credentials will allow commercial truck driving  students to be highly credentialed and highly skilled more marketable to employers while filling the needs of the workforce, said Dr. Joyce Jenkins, dean of Career and Technical Education on the Raymond Campus.

The Vicksburg-Warren Campus is ideally suited for the river barge training, being about three miles from the Mississippi River, said Dean Hilton Dyar. “The truck driving training has been phenomenal, and with the help of this grant, the barge training will be just as excellent,” he said.

The consortium partners seek to establish transportation, distribution and logistics sector partnerships in communities along the river; recalibrate programs to align with employer needs; build stacked and latticed credentials and integrate evidence-based strategies to serve TAA-eligible workers (those who have suffered job loss or whose jobs are threatened due to foreign trade); and solidify the consortium for long-term collaboration.

All along the 2,300 mile stretch of the Mississippi River, businesses in transportation, distribution and logistics related industries are poised to hire, train or retrain individuals for existing and future high-wage, high-skill occupations. At the same time, many TAA-eligible workers, unemployed veterans and other unemployed, underserved or low-income groups lack the training and skills they need to fill these positions.

Over the next three years Hinds Community College will seek to train 300 students and program participants from throughout the community college district. Overall, 4,276 students will be served by this consortium’s initiatives and trained for the estimated 4,342 annual job openings over the next five to 10 years.

Mississippi’s need for commercial truck drivers is projected to grow by 13 percent (representing 1,734 jobs) by 2020. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the job prospects and marketability of drivers will increase considerably in our area. A report from the Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., which compiles data from Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, suggests that truck driving ranks as the fourth highest occupation in demand.  In Mississippi, there are currently 42,740 jobs in the commercial truck driving field with 13,410 of these jobs being in the Hinds Community College District.

Graduates from the Hinds Community College Commercial Truck Driving program can enter the workforce as an entry level driver and can expect to have current median hourly earnings of $16.07.

Other members of the consortium are Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Hinds Community College, John Wood Community College in Quincy, Ill., Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, Ark., Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical in Winona, Miss., St. Louis Community College in St. Louis, Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis and West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Ky.

For more information about the Department of Labor’s TAACCCT grant program view the latest release here: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/ETA20130737.htm.

By Professional Mariner Staff