Job-skills training students could get financial help through Pell Grants
GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) - Welding is Ryan Smith’s dream job after serving in the Army.
“Just seemed like a really good trade, a lot of potential for growth and to learn as a person,” he said. “And, also, just the economic reasons, of course. It’s a wonderful career field.”
He’s about five months into the 16-week welding technical program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gautier.
He’s already learned enough to land a job at Ingalls.
“It’s gone phenomenal so far,” Smith said. “I’ve excelled a lot faster than I thought I would have had I not had these skills I learned here.”
It may be short-term training, but the financial burden can be a long-term problem.
“I was working a full-time job and it was really taxing trying to get in on top of coming to school too,” Smith added.
While there is financial help for two-year and four-year degrees, there are few programs to support non-accredited job skills training.
There’s now legislation - called the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students Act - to allow Pell Grants to be used for job training programs.
This program is not a done deal yet. It would be more for future students, but MGCCC officials said that when it does happen, it will be a game-changer.
Welding instructor Jefferson Reid has seen lots of stress on students.
“When you talk to these students and you see the burdens on them - both in finances as we said, and on travel - the fatigue and stress - when you can either minimize that or perhaps even eliminate that, that’s a win-win for all parties involved. Absolutely,” he said.
While it won’t come in time to help Smith, he knows the Pell Grant would have had a significant impact.
“I’d be able to maybe just have a part-time and just focus on school primarily,” he said. “It would have tremendously helped me and everybody else here. I’m sure of it.”
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