In accordance with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the State of Mississippi is divided into local workforce development areas for the purpose of carrying out the programs funded under the Act. The Act promotes local planning and service delivery as the best mechanism for identifying and meeting workforce skill gaps and needs. There are four (4) workforce areas in the state, each of which is overseen and administered by a fiscal agent. Four (4) of the state’s ten (10) Planning and Development Districts serve as fiscal agents to the four (4) workforce areas. CMPDD is the fiscal agent for the Southcentral MS Works (SMW) Workforce Development Area and is responsible for the planning of the workforce programs offered throughout the area and the fiscal integrity of the WIOA funds. Although the CMPDD provides many other services to the seven (7) counties in its District, its fiscal agent responsibilities for the SMW workforce area include seventeen counties in the southwestern quarter of the state.
The Mississippi legislature enacted Senate Bill 2564 during its 2020 session, which established the Office of Workforce Development. That office has branded the state’s workforce efforts as “Accelerate MS”. The main responsibility of Accelerate MS is to foster collaboration across public organizations and state entities that provide workforce training and employment opportunities to individuals and to direct spending control over specific funding sources used for workforce development. Specifically, these funding sources are the Workforce Enhancement Training (WET) funds, previously administered by the MS Community College Board and the MS Works funds, and are administered by the MS Development Authority for the purpose of providing On-the-Job Training to employers.
Accelerate MS has identified eight (8) “ecosystems” within the state to address local level needs within the four (4) workforce development areas. Each ecosystem will convene stakeholders to share best practices, voice concerns, provide feedback, and participate in the development of workforce strategies appropriately focused upon the needs of that particular ecosystem. Regular review of labor market data, supply chain needs, available educational resources, and regional/community assets will result in the ability to more accurately meet the needs in real time.
Mississippi has great potential and thousands of good job opportunities. Partners, working together, can help realize this potential, identify high-paying in-demand career paths, and align resources throughout the state. The Southcentral MS Works Workforce Development Area will play a large role in working within the ecosystems to move Mississippi forward and “accelerate” growth.