New Analysis: Middle-Skill Gap Means Mississippi Employers Struggle to Fill Key Jobs

February 14, 2017

New Analysis: Middle-Skill Gap Means Mississippi Employers Struggle to Fill Key Jobs

MI-BEST program key to closing skill gap

Jackson, MS – According to a new analysis by the National Skills Coalition, employers in Mississippi face a shortage of sufficiently trained workers to fill middle-skill jobs. These jobs, which require training beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of America’s labor market. In Mississippi, middle-skill jobs account for 58 percent of the labor market, but only 50 percent of the state’s workers are trained to fill these positions.

A program at Mississippi’s community colleges is aimed at closing this skill gap. The Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-BEST) program helps workers earn a high school equivalency and workforce credentials at the same time so they can compete for middle-skill job openings.

The Mississippi Community College Board piloted MI-BEST at the state’s 15 community colleges one year ago. Since then, 1,200 students have enrolled in the program.

“MIBEST is a high-quality method to ensure that opportunities are given to students and adults who have been overlooked for many decades,” said Jesse Smith, President of Jones Community College.  “This program will provide hope and results to those who need it the most.”

MI-BEST is based on a proven model developed in Washington State, which is now being replicated at community colleges across the country. According to the National Skills Coalition, Mississippi is one of 18 states supporting programs that help workers improve their reading and math skills while simultaneously training for a job.

“There are many people who want a good job but need more education and training to get one. Programs like MI-BEST help workers develop the skills they need to find those jobs while helping businesses compete and grow,” said Brooke DeRenzis, State Network Director at National Skills Coalition.



The Mississippi Community College Board advances the community college system through coordination, support, leadership, and advocacy.

National Skills Coalition is a broad-based coalition of employers, unions, education and training providers, and public officials working toward a vision of an America that grows its economy by investing in its people so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.