Six new technical programs aimed at getting college students ready to go to work in a year’s time will be offered at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus of Hinds Community College beginning in January, and at least two local managers of business development offices are seeing positives for the community workforce.

The programs all designed for each student to complete the requirements for a career certificate in two semesters are automotive technology, residential carpentry, animation simulation and design, welding, culinary arts and early childhood development. Plans are to also offer the appropriate classes for students to receive the advanced technical certificates.

“This is a way for us to help fast-track students into the job markets and assist employers in getting trained workers quickly,” said Marvin Moak, who is winding up his first semester as dean of the Vicksburg-Warren Campus.

The classes are “hybrid,” Moak said, which means students will be required to complete part of their work online. The students will meet in classes on the Vicksburg campus, from 5 p.m. until midnight on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the two semesters.

Each of the programs has a similar offering during the daytime for high school students, he explained. He said opening the classes at night will increase opportunities for those high school students seeking college credit while still being enrolled in high school and “open the courses to both employers and the general public at night.”

Moak said he expects several Vicksburg employers to profit most from the programs. As examples, he mentioned Ergon; Cameron, which formerly was LeTourneau Technologies; casino restaurants; daycares; auto dealerships; homebuilders and residential and commercial maintenance contractors. Additionally, he said he hopes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose three Vicksburg facilities play a significant role in research and maintenance of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, will find employees among the graduates of the animation simulation and design program.

Kent Pepper, general manager of Ergon’s maintenance services, said the new welding program is particularly attractive to his company, which refines and distributes petroleum products and includes operations in Vicksburg.

“We are very encouraged to see pipe welding become a part of the Hinds curriculum,” Pepper said. “One of the biggest challenges we face is access to well-trained, qualified local pipe welders.

 “As the program grows and produces graduates, we are confident that this program will certainly aid us meeting this challenge,” Pepper said.

 Jane Flowers, executive director of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce and a former longtime instructor and administrator at the Hinds Vicksburg campus, said the college’s announcement is welcomed by the Chamber.

“Now high school graduates and people who want to change careers have the opportunity to earn credentials in high-demand areas locally,” she said. “This opportunity certainly meets the needs of our Chamber members with regard to finding qualified employees.”

Wayne Mansfield, executive director of the Vicksburg-Warren County Port Commission, said he sees the programs as “outstanding opportunities for expanding our workforce development and training.”

“It is also exciting to see a blend of offerings from the traditional technical areas to the service occupations,” said Mansfield, whose position includes overseeing development of the E.W. Haining Industrial Center at the Vicksburg harbor and Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex off Interstate 20 at Flowers.

The Vicksburg-Warren Campus of Hinds Community College has been in operation since 1975. The current enrollment in Vicksburg, including college, high school and GED classes, is about 1,000 students. Enrollment across the five-county district is about 12,000.

Registration for the 2015 spring semester is under way at www.hindscc.edu. Potential students also may visit the campus at 755 Mississippi 27 South. Face-to-face classes begin Jan. 12 and online classes begin on Jan. 20.

For more information about the Vicksburg-Warren Campus, see http://www.hindscc.edu/Map_Locations/vk/default.aspx

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