Governor Phil Bryant recently announced the inception of the Furniture “Certified” Academy today to an excited crowd at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
The purpose of the 28-hour course of the academy is to give its graduates the opportunity to go to the front of the hiring line at participating furniture industries and will result in a higher base pay when employed. Graduates will also earn two national credentials when passing the courses: OSHA 10 and WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificate.
Governor Bryant commented, “The Furniture Academy will ensure Northeast Mississippi has a skilled, robust workforce to meet the demand of the region’s manufacturers. I am grateful to the local industries, educational systems and community organizations whose partnership made it a reality.”
The key players in putting together the academy are H.M. Richards of Baldwyn; Homestretch of Nettleton; Kevin Charles Furniture of New Albany; Max Homes of Fulton and Iuka; Southern Motion of Pontotoc and Baldwyn; the Franklin Furniture Institute of Mississippi State University; Itawamba Community College; Northeast Mississippi Community College; the Community Development Foundation (CDF); and Three Rivers Planning and Development District (TRPDD).
Bill Renick, WIOA Division Director at TRPDD, who authored the request of the academy to the Mississippi Development Authority, said, “Several months ago the Franklin Furniture Institute held a meeting to discuss the shortage of workers in the furniture industry. The need that was identified at the meeting was a pool of qualified applicants to be able to fill the needs of increased production requirements and be available for training up to higher skilled jobs by employees in other departments. Five furniture manufacturers were instrumental in putting this program together, and they also wanted to show that they were willing to back up their request by putting the graduates to the front of the hiring line. Both Itawamba Community College and Northeast Mississippi agreed to administer the course in their areas.”
The curriculum of the academy is an introduction to furniture manufacturing, teamwork and problem solving, role of employer and employee/work ethic, financial awareness/life skills, OSHA 10, and WorkKeys Career Readiness Certificate. It is a 28-hour course that is flexible to meet the time needs of the participants. The local community colleges will set up the scheduling based on the needs of those signing up for the course.
To apply to the Furniture Academy, visit your local WIN Job Center or go online to www.StepToTheFrontOfTheLine.com. Applicants should ask about free tuition.
This is the first program of the Mississippi Works Fund legislation signed in to law by Governor Bryant in 2016. An application was made through the Mississippi Development Foundation, which is the agency that awarded the funds to start the academy.