Melissa S. Love is one of two workforce development coordinators at Holmes Community College in Ridgeland. She and Angela Crain, also a workforce development coordinator, work together to serve Madison, Ridgeland, Gluckstadt and Madison County.
Love grew up in the Mississippi Delta as part of a farm family. She graduated from Northwest Rankin High School in 1999, attended Holmes Community College in Goodman and earned a bachelor’s degree from Delta State University where she majored in graphic design. She is completing a master’s degree in community development from Delta State.
She worked for seven years in the communications office at Holmes Community College before she and her husband moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and she was employed as a graphic designer in the corporate office of a bank. She returned to employment at Holmes Community about three and a half years ago as a workforce development coordinator.
Love is a member of Junior Auxiliary of Madison County.
What is workforce development?
“Workforce development training first and foremost includes noncredit training that is pre-and post-employment training. It is designed to provide contract training in a non-credit format for individuals and businesses.
“We can train workers on new equipment and new processes and train workers who need to advance to higher positions within their company or firm. We also offer training in the workplace so employees can gain skills to be more effective or efficient.”
Do all community colleges in Mississippi have workforce training coordinators?
“Most, if not all community college in Mississippi have workforce training coordinators. Gov. Tate Reeves created the state of Mississippi Workforce Development and named it Accelerate MS. Ryan Miller serves as the executive director of Accelerate MS.
“The community college board and the community college system operate under that office. We adhere to its policies and procedures. Workforce grants are facilitated through the community college system.”
What role does workforce development play at Holmes Community College?
“We work with businesses and industries in our district to improve the skills of their workers. Courses are designed to meet specific training requirements for a company or organization. A company may call us and say, ‘We need training for this or that,’ and we’ll do our best to meet their needs and help them figure out how to meet their needs.”
Do businesses or industries need to come to your campus to utilize workforce development training?
“Some will do that. They will have onsite training and utilize our trainers or programs on their property.”
What workforce development opportunities at Holmes Community lead to employment? Can you name some examples?
“Our goal is to ensure that everything results in employment. Most everything we do is a result of partnerships with employers in our area. There’s a logistics company called Capstone that is a warehouser and supplier for Nissan. They send individuals to receive forklift training prior to beginning their position. Upon their successful training, the individual can begin work.
“Our forklift training course is outside and subject to the elements, but some of our virtual training equipment is housed inside and there’s a virtual classroom.
“We have partnerships with electric co-ops such as Yazoo Valley Electric in Yazoo City. We have an electrical lineman school at our campus in Goodman. Lately we’ve had 100 percent job placement because it’s competitive. That’s a workforce training program that an individual can complete and be employed.
“We have a partnership with MMC Materials, and we train individuals to operate and drive a concrete mixer truck. If an individual successfully completes that, he or she can go to work for MMC, depending upon MMC’s needs at the time.”
Will you approach Amazon, which is opening a fulfillment center in Madison County, about workforce training?
“We will definitely approach them. Amazon has its own training department, but we will still let them know what we can do.
“We’ve had a relationship with Nissan from day one. We’ve done workforce training on site and we have partnerships on their site. All around the Nissan plant are suppliers and warehouse companies for the plant and we assist and serve those as well.”
Are you always trying o establish new partnerships with businesses?
“Yes. We’re always looking for a niche that has not been filled yet. If there’s a certain training program not readily available, we could meet that need.
“On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there’s a been a story about Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College creating a diesel tech program They were able to create one because there hasn’t been one around there. They built it from the ground up as a workforce development training program.”
Are there any opportunities to help displaced workers who might have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic?
“We’re here to help but we’re not their first step on the journey. We’re here to help them. Their first step should be a visit to a WIN Job Center or msworks.com. Often, we’ll be on someone’s journey back into employment.”
How do you connect with the business community?
“We network with businesses. The Madison County Economic Development Authority has a quarterly human resources roundtable, and we’re active in attendance. It’s beneficial in meeting new business and business owners in Madison County and getting feedback.
“We try to stay informed on local industry happenings, different workforce markets and different trends in employment.
“We email newsletters. We use social media and our website and network to spread the word about tailored training available to businesses.”
How do you find instructors for the tailored training that is offered?
“What we’ll do is play detective and research about the training needed. I’ve looked at job descriptions posted and used those as leads. I’ve used LinkedIn.
“We have a library of training manuals. This department has been around for a long time and there are lots of resources to look at and pull from.
“I’m always looking for new people who could come on and give their skills as trainers in unique ways. If I meet someone who has a unique skill, who knows how to weld or how to drive a forklift or is recently retired, I’ll remember that. It’s contract work.”
How does an employer reach out to a workforce training coordinator?
“They need to determine what community college is in their district that would be closest to serve them and then contact that community college and identify a workforce training coordinator. For someone in the Madison-Ridgeland area, it would be myself or Angela Crain.”
Are career-technical programs at community colleges part of workforce training?
“Career-technical programs are not part of workforce training. Sometimes our space crosses over into the career-technical side. We work with individuals from age 17 and older.
“Sometimes they just want workforce training but then someone may want to finish their degree if they lack a credit or two. We happily refer them to a counselor, and they discover opportunities they didn’t know were available.
“At Holmes, we have a culinary school, a massage therapy school, a competitive nursing program, industrial mechanics and maintenance technology, occupational assistant therapy technology and welding and cutting technology. We have a new heating, air conditioning and ventilation program with new equipment. We have that on the Goodman campus and we’re adding that in Ridgeland.
“On the academic side, there are different pathways that could lead to a four-year degree or someone could achieve an associate degree. An individual might want to get a GED and we have that. We have specialized instructors who can assist people who need a bridge the working world and the academic world.”
Does your communications experience help with your current role?
“Yes. I’m a people person. I enjoy being able to communicate and network with people and network and being able to make fliers and materials to promote our courses and what we do. I can put together email newsletter and get them out. If I need to write something, I’m comfortable doing that, too.”
What do you like about your job?
“I love that the possibilities are endless and that we can help industries in our communities be the best they can be and help our communities shine.”