Waller: More skilled workers needed in state Featured

The Rotary Club of Cleveland learned about the importance of education routes other than the tradition four-year college degree from Scott Waller, president of the Mississippi Economic Council. During his discussion on opportunities to fuel the Mississippi Economy, Waller explained passion was incredibly important and that should drive people more than attempting to attend a four-year university simply because they believe it is expected. There are currently 40,000 jobs available in Mississippi and "two million manufacturing jobs could go unfulfilled in the next decade," he said. By 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require some post-secondary education and training. Waller discussed the need to encourage people "to develop a workforce with practical skill for the job market. Skilled workers will lead to growth in the Mississippi population." Waller also pointed out the education gains made in Mississippi since 2007 including being the fourth highest in fourth grade math and the second highest in fourth grade reading. "We must help breakdown stereotypes and value all jobs. We need to create ways to reward schools for focusing on all educational pathways," he said. Waller added not every child will go to college and there is a great deal of value in trade jobs. Waller told of a speaker at a recent graduation ceremony who repeatedly said "for the next four years." He said as he listened and watched the graduates, he realized that college would not be the best fit for some of these students, however the graduates were only lectured on traditional four-year universities. "There are so many opportunities for training and certification. We need to celebrate that success on the same level," he said. According to its website, the Mississippi Economic Council has been the voice of Mississippi business since 1949. MEC deals with broad issues that relate to businesses through Advocacy, Research, Resources and Leadership. After the meeting, several Rotarians had questions and one was if Waller knew about a push for hospitality training. He said he wasn’t aware of any push but opportunities for this and other types of training are being created every day. "Maybe I need to reach out … it all comes back to collaboration and cooperation," said Waller.

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