Mississippi Power’s involvement with the Mississippi Educator Externship Program is giving local teachers a chance to gain firsthand knowledge of current workplace trends.
The first step in the program, co-sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education, happened recently when the company hosted local teachers and administrators for an orientation meeting followed by lunch at Plant Watson and a tour of the facility.
“We want to make sure you’re equipped with all the tools and resources you need to educate today’s students and get them ready for tomorrow’s workforce,” said Johnny Atherton, vice president of Public Relations and Corporate Services, as he welcomed the visitors to the General Office Auditorium.
This summer, ten teachers with backgrounds in several different career-technical fields including construction, industrial maintenance, welding, engineering, chemistry and instrumentation and controls will take part in the program. Five will work at Plant Daniel and five will work at Plant Watson during June and July.
“This will help instructors get a better feel for the types of employees we usually hire,” said Stephanie Burdett, Human Resources recruiting consultant.
Albert Horton, Moss Point Schools Career and Technical Center carpentry instructor, is one of those that will be at Plant Daniel this summer.
“I also teach residential wiring,” said Horton. “I hope by being out there I can learn how to mold what I learn into what I teach my students. I’m also hoping this will help me help them get interested in this industry.”
For D’Iberville instructor Joey Cates, the externship is also a chance to earn valuable continuing education credits.
“This helps my continuing education and it’s always good to learn something new from a reputable company like Mississippi Power,” Cates said.
While getting daily one-on-one experience at job sites is high on the list of program objectives, relationship building between schools and businesses is also a top priority.
“We’re hoping all of you will experience strong and viable connections between the classrooms and the workplace,” said Charles Weir, Mississippi Department of Education director of business and industry. “This will help us make sure we’re providing students with the skills our employers need from the applicants. In the future, we hope this could expand to include teachers from all 23 counties serviced by Mississippi Power.”
Program advocates say recent trends indicate the current workforce needs job applicants with mid-level skillsets.
“In Mississippi, assuming 30 percent of a person’s income goes to housing, that person needs to make at least $14.07 per hour to successfully afford a two-bedroom apartment,” said Brock Clark, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College dean of workforce development. “That’s why training students for better jobs is so important. At the Instrumentation and Controls (I&C) Academy, we tell the students that the class is really a two-year job interview.”
During the orientation session, several company leaders spoke to teachers about the company’s safety culture, plant safety and security.
“We want you to learn and enjoy the experience,” said Micah Sawyer, Plant Daniel chemical technician, “But the most important thing is for you to be safe.”
Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for nearly 187,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power ranked first in the Southeastern Electric Exchange’s 2016 Safety Performance Reports and is consistently recognized as an industry leader in reliability, customer service and safety. Visit our websites at www.mississippipower.com and www.mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.