Innovative PRCC programs provide path to jobs

POPLARVILLE – A variety of innovative programs are giving Pearl River Community College career technical students advantages in entering the workforce.
The first community college in the state to become a registered apprenticeship sponsor, PRCC also offers internships and a pathway to work for the previously unskilled.
“Our lineman program is set as a registered apprenticeship program so that entry-level employees can use the training they received here on the apprenticeship pathway,” said Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, vice president for workforce and economic development. 
PRCC is partnering primarily with Chain Electric in Hattiesburg for utility lineman students while working to develop similar programs with employers in other fields, he said. The program is funded through a Department of Labor grant to the state community college system.
“It’s part of the overall work-based learning strategy,” Alsobrooks said. 
Students in several other career technical programs can apply for internships, which frequently lead to full-time employment.
Twelve former students are currently working where they interned, said Sonya Hunt, Workforce Investment and dislocated worker coordinator.
“It definitely gave me some real-life work experience,” said Hannah Rester. “You can’t always get that in the classroom.” 
She interned at the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission and is now an administrative assistant there. 
Six of the former interns are working in the medical billing and coding field, three in the utility industry, one in drafting and another with the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission.
Funding for the program comes from the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District.
“It’s been an outstanding opportunity for students,” Alsobrooks said.
A program funded through the Governor’s Office provides training to 16- to 24-year-olds who lack employable skills.

Through the program, students earn a Career Readiness Certificate that tells employers they have basic workplace skills. PRCC currently alternates teaching Welding on Wheels at the Forrest County Center in Hattiesburg and the Jefferson Davis County Career and Technical Center.
Marcus Henry, 18, took the class although he missed the first couple of days.
“Marcus turned out to be an excellent welder and excelled in the class,” Hunt said. 
At the end of the class, he had OSHA, forklift and basic welding certifications and a job welding solar panel frames for a national company. The company has offered him a full-time traveling job.
“We’re trying to help these people get credentials to go to work,” Alsobrooks said.
To learn more about career technical programs at PRCC, contact Alsobrooks at 601 403-1260 or or Hunt at 601 403-1120 or

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