Pictured from left to right are Philadelphia Community Development President David Vowell, Neshoba County School District Superintendent Lundy Brantley, Phillip McLain of McLain Plumbing, Mississippi Construction Education Foundation Vice President of Adult Craft Training Brent Bean, Neshoba Central High School (NCHS) Assistant Principal Dana McLain and NCHS Principal Jason Gentry.
Neshoba Central High School and McLain Plumbing and Electrical Service of Philadelphia launched an apprenticeship program last academic year that allows seniors to graduate with a high school diploma and earn industry credentials and experience.
Neshoba County School District Superintendent Lundy Brantley and Phillip McLain of McLain Plumbing said the program is a win-win for the district, its students and the Philadelphia industry.
“It’s a rare situation where everybody wins,” Brantley said, “and it doesn’t cost us a dime.”
Participating students’ weekly schedules will be tailored to work one or more days each week at McLain Plumbing. They must be 18 years old to participate in the apprenticeship and have completed most of the required classes for graduation.
McLain said the first students received on-the-job training in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) service.
The apprenticeship benefits students who want to live and work in Neshoba County after graduation, Brantley said.
“There are great jobs here, and if you stay and make a career, you can do pretty well,” he said.
When announcing the program, Brantley and McClain were joined by David Vowell, president of the Philadelphia Community Development Partnership, and Brent Bean, vice president of adult craft training for the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation. The group cited local, statewide and national needs for HVAC workers, sheet metal technicians and plumbers. They also noted careers in those fields typically bring with them higher salaries compared to many entry-level jobs.
“HVAC techs, sheet metal and plumbers are in such high demand,” Bean said. “For whatever reason, people are not wanting to go in those fields even though they are the higher paying skilled jobs. They are really higher paying now because there is such a demand for them for lack of a workforce.”