Gov. Phil Bryant said Pearl River Community College’s Industrial Electronics Technology Lab and its new equipment “is the future” during a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday at the school’s Hattiesburg campus.
The ribbon cutting was held in celebration of $247,000 worth of new lab equipment, funding for which was provided by the state through the Greater Hattiesburg Workforce Needs Proposal.
“This is a laboratory, it is a classroom, but it is also the future,” the second-term Republican governor said. “As we look at advanced manufacturing across the state of Mississippi, these are the very jobs that are in demand today.
“Decades ago, as we looked at agriculture in the state, that was our business and it still is, but even in agriculture … you will see the robotics, the technology, the equipment that is being used. Very soon into the future, the men and women that are learning here in this laboratory will provide the technology needed in the advanced manufacturing of the future.”
The new training equipment includes industrial wire training equipment, circuit systems, Skill Boss production simulation trainers, pneumatics training systems and LabVolt mechatronics. Along with the enhancement of PRCC’s two-year Industrial Electronics Technology program – which is designed to train students in credit and non-credit coursework in the field of advanced technology – the equipment is expected to help provide a qualified workforce for the Pine Belt and the state.
Students can earn a two-year Associates in Applied Science degree, along with customized curriculum that can be developed for the specific training needs of employers. The curriculum also can be used to receive certificate-based workforce training to gain employment.
PRCC offers training in the field of Fanuc robotics, motor controls, automation controls and electrical wiring. After completing requirements, graduates will be qualified for careers at several local organizations like Green Bay Converting, Wis-Pak, Johnson Controls and Western Container.
“(Graduates) will go on to get good-paying jobs – they will start out making 20 to 25 dollars an hour – and I can tell you as a parent, there’s nothing better than realizing your child has a job,” Bryant said. “I will now be able to tell businessmen and women from around the world that we have a well-trained workforce in Hattiesburg and Forrest County.
“Just now, in Mississippi, we have over 37,000 job openings. Mississippi people used to look for jobs; now we’ve got jobs looking for people.”
The Greater Hattiesburg Workforce Needs Proposal was developed in conjunction with PRCC, the Area Development Partnership and 16 local industrial employers. PRCC officials submitted the proposal, along with industry survey data, new curriculum and equipment needs, to the State Workforce Investment Board at the governor’s office.
“I’ve been humbled by the support from our elected officials and our local industry leaders,” PRCC president Adam Breerwood said. “These leaders have opened their doors to us and have worked diligently to provide overwhelming support and insight, while bringing partnerships that will put Mississippians to work.”