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WESSON – Lincoln County native Luke Laird takes the reigns of Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Workforce Education Division as Workforce Center Director. His extensive background in corporate based telecommunications industry provides him with a unique prospective to relate to area employers and their labor force needs. In addition, his time as a classroom educator and football coach enable him to provide quality instruction and mentoring as the new Workforce Center Director.
“The addition of Laird will give Co-Lin an added advantage in workforce training and economic development. We look forward to Luke’s leadership, as he will be an asset to our already exceptional training staff in the Workforce Center,” said Brent Duguid, Dean of Career, Technical, and Workforce Education. “The Co-Lin district and Southwest Mississippi region will greatly benefit from his industry experience and new program development.”
Laird’s resume touts a 20-year career in telecommunications including a collective four years of staff training in which he designed curriculum and implemented successful training programs that accomplished an improved safety standing within the company. Furthermore, after traveling through the ranks from outside technician to senior management, Laird developed management systems and controls within the company accomplishing a savings of $200 million over the course of a decade. After retiring from AT&T, he turned to education where he taught physical science and coached football which allowed him to hone his skills in coaching, motivating, and mentoring.
“I am truly excited to move back home and begin to give back to the community,” said Laird. “My desire is to see Co-Lin lead the way in building a quality labor force that serves companies and organizations in Southwest Mississippi. Additionally, we are looking to prepare our district to meet the future needs of the evolving investment by new employers locating in our area.”
The first immediate training opportunity is the implementation of the fiber splicing program funded by a grant awarded by AccelerateMS. This short-term training course will provide skills to students that will be enable them to fulfill fiber technician responsibilities with any utility company providing fiber dependent services. Potential employing industries include local cooperatives deploying fiber broadband and existing communications companies in the area. Training will include skills such as safety, cable and fiber prep, geometry, all operation of cleavers/splicers, troubleshooting, installations, and customer service. Once employed, students will receive on-the-job training to further enhance their training and job proficiency.
Laird will continue to build on already strong relationships with district employers as well as forge new partnerships. Along with building effective and relevant training programs, Co-Lin will focus on community outreach and strengthening the labor force by recruiting those in need of new or upgraded skills. The upcoming summer and fall months will provide such opportunities including industrial welding at the Wesson and Simpson locations; emergency medical technician basic training in Monticello and Mendenhall; certified nursing assistant training in Mendenhall; and electrical lineman, plumbing, masonry, and fiber splicing at the Wesson Campus. Enrollment information is posted on or forthcoming to the Co-Lin Workforce website at https://workforce.colin.edu.
Workforce Education is funded by the Mississippi Workforce Enhancement Training Fund and administered by the newly formed AccelerateMS. The mission of AccelerateMS is to develop and deploy workforce strategies to connect individuals in the labor force with transformative, high-paying careers. By leveraging resources and partnering with organizations that hold complementary missions including the state community college system, AccelerateMS strives to influence positive change and to create sustained individual, community, and statewide economic success. Such opportunities will be coordinated by the Workforce Division at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and provided to the College seven county district. For more information about Workforce Education services visit the website at https://workforce.colin.edu/ or find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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