More than 95 percent of jobs created during the recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education, while those with a high school diploma or less are being left behind, according to America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots, a recent report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Understanding the crucial link between higher education and economic development, the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Development Authority have worked together for decades to leverage higher education assets to attract business and industry to Mississippi. The two entities formalized this partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Glenn McCullough Jr., Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority, Dr. Douglas W. Rouse, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education, at a Board of Trustees meeting held Thursday [Jan. 19] in Jackson.
In collaboration with Mississippi’s eight public universities, the Board of Trustees and MDA will showcase Mississippi to companies that will create jobs and invest capital.
“Mississippi's public universities are a strategic advantage in community and economic development so MDA is pleased to formally recognize our partnership with the Institutions of Higher Learning to provide new career opportunities for Mississippians,” McCullough said. "Working together, MDA and the IHL will aggressively leverage the assets we share to accelerate economic opportunity for Mississippians throughout the state.”
As outlined in the MOU, the expected outcomes include:
— Increased pipeline of companies to consider Mississippi for expansion and growth.
— Increased number of corporate contacts and project leads for MDA.
— Increased opportunities for corporate entities and Mississippi’s public universities to support one another.
— Defined and mapped catalog of the respective economic development strengths of Mississippi’s public universities.
— Increased business growth across the state.
— Stabilization and growth of jobs in defined sectors.
“Working together, our university system and the state’s economic development engine can build on our collective strengths for the benefit of the state,” Boyce said. “This Memorandum of Understanding better defines our roles and efforts, enabling the partnership to become a force multiplier for the state’s economy.”
Some of the planned efforts include shared marketing messages, joint outreach to strategic clients and business leaders and identifying and supporting shared legislative priorities. Each organization will designate a representative to serve as a point of contact and liaison for the effort who will support the goals of the MOU.
In addition to the MOU signing, another initiative was announced at the ceremony. This initiative is an online tool designed to help recent and soon-to-be graduates find jobs in the state, www.msgradjobs.com. Set to complete the pilot phase and begin statewide implementation soon, the site allows students to receive email alerts when jobs in their desired career tracks become available.
The online tool was conceived by Mark Henry, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Services. Spearheaded by MDES, the site was developed by the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at Mississippi State University and is managed by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. The career centers at the universities assist MDES in informing students about how to create a profile and use the site.
“This website is an important tool to help our students transition into the workforce and keep our graduates in the state,” Boyce said. “I’m not sure there has ever been a better communicative tool for keeping students up-to-date on job openings.”
MDA, IHL and the universities also plan to hold a semi-annual strategic conversation to align strategies and goals and produce a joint annual summary report of the outcomes and results of their collaborative work.