December 4, 2019 10:46:29 AM
As so often seems to be the case, there is good news and bad news about how our state prepares its young people for the future.
The good news is that, for the past few years, there has been more talk about the need for preparing our children for the jobs of the future.
The bad news is we should have been talking about this about a decade sooner.
During the recent campaign season, candidates up and down the ballot, regardless of party affiliation, pushed for workforce development programs that put heavy emphasis on the new technology that is transforming the working landscape. Almost every job seems to require its own technological skill set. There's a premium on those skills, many of which do not require a four-year degree.
Slowly, our state is at last beginning to recognize the importance of this type of training and appears to be taking the necessary steps to provide that training.
On Tuesday evening, a group of 12 Starkville High School students showed off their computer technology prowess as part of a pilot program sponsored by C Spire. The classes are a dual-enrollment program with East Mississippi Community College, with Mississippi State University providing the curriculum. With two years of high school classes and a year at EMCC, students can earn up to four Microsoft certifications and can work as a junior software developer, with an average starting salary of $70,000.
The program is in place in 25 high schools throughout the state. Joe Wilson, the C Spire market manager for Starkville, said his company would like to start the program in every school district.
"We'd love to do this everywhere, but really, a lot of it is up to the districts," he said. "They have to be ready, with instructors, equipment and the support before we can do this."
We applaud the Starkville School District for providing the resources needed to accommodate this program, and C Spire for taking a leadership role. We encourage all our school districts to follow suit.
There are, at the present, 1,000 computer technology jobs in the state that are unfilled for a lack of qualified workers, said Wilson.
The sooner our schools prepare students for the jobs, the better.