Mississippi College Supports Jobs Fair
March 18, 2009America's economic crisis attracted thousands of unemployed Mississippians to a jobs fair in Jackson.
Mississippi College's table saw a steady flow of traffic Tuesday at the Governor's Job Fair Network's Mississippi Employment Expo.
More than 100 employers teamed up with MC and schools like Belhaven, Millsaps, Hinds Community College, Holmes Community College and Mississippi Valley State University. Participants pouring into the Mississippi Trade Mart learned about job openings and opportunities to retool with new degrees.
"It was a great turnout - we had quality prospective students," said Bebe Garrison, director of MC's Accelerated Degree Program. "Lots of students are coming back to school while the economy is bad. We will get many qualified students who will make good employees."
Garrison was among the staffers working the Mississippi College table jammed with brochures about graduate and undergraduate programs and the MC School of Law in downtown Jackson. Many Mississippians stopped by the university's booth to drop off resumes.
The Jackson event is one of 11 in the statewide network of job fairs through the fall. Upcoming fairs are expected to draw large crowds, too, during this economic crunch. Mississippi's 9.2 percent jobless rate in January tops the nation's 8.5 percent unemployment rate during this recession.
Gov. Haley Barbour delivered the welcoming address to kick off the sixth annual jobs fair that saw crowds swelling well before the event began at 9 a.m. "We are seeing a lot of quality employers," Barbour said during brief remarks.
Barbour said he's hoping this event and others will lead to jobs and enhance employment skills for thousands of Mississippians. Reporters and camera crews from Jackson's TV stations, "The Clarion-Ledger" and other media spotlighted the fair that fell on St. Patrick's Day.
In a Clarion-Ledger story Wednesday by business writer Jeff Ayres, Garrison spoke of a mother of five who recently completed her MC degree and has since landed a job. She told the newspaper more people have asked about MC's accelerated degree program in recent months as layoffs mount.
As visitors stopped by, MC graduate student Richard Evers told them how he's started work on a master's in business administration despite time pressures. The Forest resident graduated last year from the university's ADP program while holding down a full-time job and keeping up with his young children. Now his wife is enrolled in the ADP program.
Others at the expo lined up interviews and say they plan to follow up by visiting company web sites. Agencies from the FBI to the Mississippi Department of Education to employers like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding were among the 103 companies participating. At least 5,000 people attended the fair, said fair director Joe Buckner.
"It good way to network with people," said the Rev. Michael Hyche, pastor at Life Changes Church in Jackson.
As the six-hour event was winding down, Hyche invited representatives from Mississippi College to be part of a job fair his 400-member church is hosting on Friday, May 1 on the church campus off I-55 South.
The lead sponsors of the fair were the Governor's Job Fair Network, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, The Clarion-Ledger/careerbuilder.com and the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.
For more information on future job fairs, call the Mississippi Employment Security Commission at 601.321.6000 or go to the web site www.mdes.ms.gov.
Photo: Bebe Garrison, director of MC's Accelerated Degree Program, discusses educational opportunities with a prospective student.