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COVID-19 workforce training initiative launches

Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves announced the launch of the ReSkill Mississippi Initiative to help ease the economic burden and uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic has created for the state’s workforce.

Workers who lost jobs or had severe cutbacks and went on unemployment due to COVID-19 can receive skills training at state community colleges to change jobs into high-demand careers. The Legislature appropriated $55 million for support of workers and employers, from the $1.25 billion in federal relief funds received by the state under the CARES Act.

“While we are in the midst of a public health crisis, we are also fighting this disease on an economic front. Hundreds of thousands of Mississippians have been laid off during this pandemic. Countless Mississippi employers are struggling to make ends meet,” said Reeves. “ReSkill Mississippi is an effort to utilize CARES Act funds to not only get Mississippians back to work, but to get them skills training that will help them work in even better jobs than they may have had before COVID-19.”

ReSkillMS was created as a result of the Governor’s Commission on Economic Recovery’s recommendation that significant dollars from the CARES Act recovery funds be used for workforce training to help lift the economic burden on our workforce from COVID-19. The State Workforce Investment Board, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and Mississippi’s four local workforce areas collaborated to develop the program to allow Mississippians out-of-work or those working reduced hours to “re-skill” in order to fill high-demand, high-paying jobs across the state.

“This program can have a major difference in the lives of Mississippians and in building a stronger economy in our state for the demands of tomorrow’s world,” said SWIB Chairman Patrick Sullivan. “Skilled jobs were in demand before COVID-19, and they will be in demand long after the pandemic is over. Getting more Mississippians the skills for higher paying jobs is going to be key if we are to see sustained economic growth.”

The direct beneficiaries of ReSkillMS will be Mississippians furloughed, laid off or otherwise having economic damages and who received unemployment benefits from MDES, as well as Mississippi employers seeking to hire Mississippians immediately and train them on the job. Employers willing to hire and train individuals in the workplace are eligible to be reimbursed for up to 75% of the individual’s wages during the training period. The program requires a minimum fair wage threshold of $15-per-hour for employers to be eligible for reimbursements.

Individuals and employers interested in the program should go online to ReSkillMS.com to complete the appropriate survey. An official from Mississippi’s workforce offices nearby will reach out to the individual to guide them through the application process. If individuals have not heard from anyone within seven days of submitting an application, they can email ReSkillMS@mdes.ms.gov to follow up.