A number of community colleges in Mississippi have implemented MI-BEST programs, which are accelerated approaches to the instruction of skills training and workplace preparation. This program structure follows that of I-BEST, a model of education which challenges the conventional notion that basic skills instruction must be completed by students prior to starting college-level courses. Southcentral Mississippi Works Workforce Development Area, administered by CMPDD, is working closely with Hinds Community College (HCC) under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to fund the tuition of some MI-BEST participants and to enhance the success of WIOA MI-BEST students enrolled at HCC.
MI-BEST’s goal is to speed up the rate at which Adult Basic Education students advance to college-level occupational programs; complete credentials of value in the labor market; and move into high-demand jobs offering good wages and opportunities for career advancement. HCC assists students in identifying educational pathways that link to career pathways. MI-BEST provides traditionally underserved and academically challenged populations with integrated basic and occupational skills to succeed in the workforce. MI-BEST participants are individuals who do not currently possess a high-school diploma or GED.
The MI-BEST program structure consists of multiple levels of education along a career pathway that allows students the opportunity to progress along their pathway into more college coursework, further certificates and/or degrees and employment. HCC assesses individuals for basic skills proficiency or deficiency prior to enrollment. All individuals enrolled into WIOA funded MI-BEST courses obtain a GED or other acceptable credential prior to exit from the program. In addition, the WorkKeys test is administered to all individuals enrolled into WIOA funded MI-BEST courses and students taking the test must obtain a Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) at no less than the Bronze level prior to exit from the program.
HCC also works with area employers to provide them with skilled workers (MI-BEST participants and/or graduates) to fill high-demand jobs.
New MI-BEST classes at HCC begin once every 8 weeks and are held at various campuses of Hinds Community College in Hinds, Rankin, and Warren Counties. A Recruiting Coordinator works with three MI-BEST Navigators to recruit WIOA eligible individuals for enrollment into MI-BEST Career Pathways and to mentor them through the process.