Marano Fellows Class of 2011

Name: Arthur Brooks

Mississippi Department of Employment Security

Location: Jackson, Mississippi
Primary Industry Sector:


Type of Organization: State Agency

“I am passionate about a planning strategy of aligning public funds and education around private industry actual workforce needs using collaboration and partnership theory along with impute from other stakeholders to solve regional workforce and economic problems that promote long term employment, retention and advancement for low-wage workers and the unemployed to improve the quality of their lives. ”

Organizational Mission: There are two coordinating organizations championing the Sector Strategy initiative in Mississippi with overlapping mission. The two organizations are, the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) and Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES). The SWIB, mission statement is develop and implement a strategy to maximize the stateís education, training, and employment service resources in support of economic development; MDES, mission statement increasing employment in Mississippi. MDES has established a lead statewide industry, education, economic, planning agency, government agency, governorís office, community stakeholder, industry association, and utility, sector strategy advisory team .The mission statement is establish a sustainable partnership of employers and stakeholders to make data-driven decision on present and future regional workforce needs of industries and workers, with a focus on providing quality jobs and career opportunities for all.

In 2006 Governor Haley Barbour adopted and initiated a Sector Strategy workforce and economic planning model for Mississippi.

Interest in Sector Work: The current environment in Mississippi offers an excellent opportunity for promoting and expanding sector-based workforce and economic initiatives. This will advance Governor Haley Barbourís strategy to improve the quality of life in Mississippi to focus on practices that meet the stateís workforce needs while creating access to good jobs for low-income workers across the state and region to achieve family economic self-sufficiency. The first initiative for Mississippi was a Momentum Wired project. This project identified advanced manufacturing in general and metal trade as the main sector relevant for 18 counties in Southeastern Mississippi. Employment in this sector accounts for approximately 37 percent of the total employment in the region and has experienced a 28 percent growth since 2002.

The Delta pilot sector project will target health. The Delta region includes fourteen counties, the occupational projections show that between 2008 and to 2018 the health care sector is poised to grow rapidly by 23.6 percent. The healthcare industry employer view: the healthcare industry experiences significant vacancies and turnover. In the Delta during 2009, RNs had a 10.7 percent vacancy rate and a 23 percent turnover rate during 2008, LPNs had an 8.5 percent and a 45 percent turnover rate.

The Delta sector project goal is to provide services for 500 job seekers and enroll 275 in training/education of which 215 will receive educational or industry-recognized credentials; 238 will obtain jobs, 178 will provide economic self-sufficiency for households with two adults workers with child; 200 will retain their jobs and provide services to 125 incumbent workers and enroll all of them in training/education, leading to wage increases of 65, promotions of 13 and industry-recognized credentials for 90.

The target population includes workers who want to move up to better jobs, workers who cycle between employment and unemployment and individuals whose work experience is very limited. Many members of the target population have low levels of literacy and the regionís level of college attainment is well below the national state and national average. The percentage of individuals between 18 and 64 that are not working is about 50 percent compared to the state at 29 percent and 35.5 percent of adults lack a high school education; and many function at Literacy Level I. Unemployment rates in the Delta region between 2001 to 2007 fluctuated between 8 percent and 10 percent consistently exceeding those of the state and nation. In December 2008 most Delta counties registered unemployment rates between 10 and 17 percent. The income disparitiesí persist. In 2007 the median household income for whites in the Delta was $44,055, which is only slightly less than the state average. In contrast the median household income for blacks in the Delta was $21,165, which is 23 percent less than the median state household income for blacks.