Ingalls Shipbuilding

Ingalls awards $100,000 in grants for STEM education initiatives

67 views – Janae Jordan – 2023-01-17 12:37:35

announced their 2022 academic year STEM grant recipients today during a special breakfast.

The Ingalls Shipbuilding Division awarded 26 schools in Mississippi and Alabama with a check toward their STEM-related initiatives.

Ingalls makes this annual investment for the future of STEM education. This year, Ingalls awarded $100,000 in grant money.

Ingalls has awarded more than $1.1 million in teacher training and projects in the past decade.

Billy Carroll, an engineering teacher in the School District says, “If you look at statistics, the…

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Kimberly Nastasi promoted to VP of communications at Ingalls

92 views – WXXV Staff – 2023-01-11 11:22:29

Kimberly Nastasi

Huntington Ingalls announced today that Kimberly Nastasi has been promoted to vice president of the newly formed integrated communications and stakeholder engagement department at in .

This new department will enhance communication and engagement with key stakeholders inside and outside of the shipbuilding community.

As vice president of integrated communications and stakeholder engagement, Nastasi will report to Ingalls President Kari Wilkinson and will be responsible for leading internal and external efforts in marketing…

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Ingalls Shipbuilding honors apprentices for National Apprenticeship Week

117 views – Rick Gogreve – 2022-11-16 17:29:07

This week marks the eighth annual National Apprenticeship Week. The City of and are showing how much they appreciate their apprentices.

Apprenticeship Week is a time to celebrate those men and women in training to become full time workers at certain organizations.

While this is a national celebration, officials at Pascagoula City Hall are showing their appreciation on a more personal level by adopting a proclamation officially approving the recognition of the special week in the city. Training Rep and former apprentice Lloyd Stringer…

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Mississippi groups want 55% of workforce to have college degree


MEC, Accelerate Mississippi want 55% of the workforce to have a college degree by 2030

The ’s chamber of commerce and workforce development office are working together on an ambitious goal: Get more than half of Mississippi’s workforce college-educated by 2030.

The Mississippi Economic Council and Accelerate Mississippi are conducting a statewide listening tour, part of the state’s “Ascent to 55%” initiative, to create a strategic plan to increase the number of college graduates among working-aged , considered anyone between 25-64 years old.

Mississippi already seems to be on track to achieve this goal – by 2030, an estimated 59% of the state’s workforce will have a college degree or equivalent certificate, according to a paper commissioned by the Woodward Hines Education Foundation. 

The strategic plan will aim to guide policy and marketing so that Missisippians are getting college degrees that meet the varying needs of employers like Nissan in central Mississippi, to the south and Toyota to the north.

The tour began earlier this week and will continue into December. It is being spearheaded by Jean Massey, a former associate state superintendent who MEC hired with grant funds from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF).

Massey’s first stop was at Copiah-Lincoln Community College on Tuesday. She said she wants to learn about the needs of business – what degrees do they want the local workforce to have? – and to generate buy-in from public and private leaders needed to achieve the state’s wide-ranging goal. 

“We want to hear from the business industry what they need, we want to hear from workforce workers, we also want to hear from the educators in the region to hear what they’re offering and aligns with what’s needed, and we also want to hear from the leaders in the community, government officials,” she said. 

Mississippians have long pursued higher education at some of the lowest rates in the country, a fact state leaders have talked about improving for years with little success. 

The initiative comes as Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Monday the largest economic development project in state history. It also takes on new urgency as the pandemic has contributed to a decline in the number of Mississippians going to college, said Courtney Brown, the vice president of impact and planning at the Lumina Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for postsecondary attainment. 

“If at any point the data were really right in front of our face about the importance of having more education, the pandemic really shows that,” Brown said. “It really showed the inequities in our society between the haves and the have-nots, and we really have to change that.” 

But if Mississippi does increase the number of college degrees in the state, the theory is that it will kick off a positive feedback loop of economic development, leading to bigger business and higher paying jobs. 

“If we raise our attainment level, our workforce becomes more valuable, industry wants to be here, and we can attract more people,” Massey said. 

The goal of increasing college degrees or credentials in Mississippi goes back to 2010 under Gov. Haley Barbour’s administration, when the created the Education Achievement Council (EAC) to measure the progress made by community colleges and universities in terms of degrees awarded, graduation rates and research dollars. 

That same year, the EAC set a postsecondary attainment goal of reaching the national average by 2025. In 2019, Mississippi’s educational attainment rate was 44% – the fourth lowest in the nation, according to Lumina – putting it on track to miss its original goal of 52%.

Two years ago, the EAC revised its attainment goal by committing to the Ascent to 55% initiative. Then WHEF – which is funding the listening tour with a four-year, $1 million grant – put out a request for proposal which it granted to MEC. 

MEC’s strategic plan would mark the first time that Mississippi has created a plan to increase the state’s number of college degrees and certificates, said Jim McHale, the president and CEO of WHEF, which has long advocated for a strong attainment goal. 

“Ascent to 55% is our north star, and everything needs to lead up to that,” McHale said. 

The strategic plan, though, is only for MEC, and it’s unclear if or how it will call on state lawmakers to pass legislation to support educational attainment. Their participation would be needed to achieve such a wide-ranging goal, according to higher education experts. 

“You need everybody at the table,” said Brown from Lumina. “Higher ed can’t solve this alone.” 

A state’s postsecondary education attainment is a reflection of a number of non-education policies, namely social services, said Iris Palmer, an education policy director at New America. Relying on higher education as a pathway to the middle class, Palmer said, isn’t a substitute for social welfare programs.

“If (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) actually worked, if all the states expanded , if we had a world where there was enough cash assistance for people to be able to live while they’re in school, we wouldn’t have to be pathworking these things through our educational system,” Palmer said.

In Mississippi, the lack of social services is accompanied by few state resources for adult and low-income college students. The rules for Mississippi’s three college financial aid programs by and large exclude adults. Students from low-income families are less likely to complete college than students from wealthier families. As race tracks highly with income in Mississippi, Black students are much less likely to complete college than white students, even though they start college at the same rate. 

While the EAC has committed to this goal, state lawmakers are pursuing policies that either impede educational attainment or hamper the economic benefits

On brightly-colored fliers, MEC and Accelerate Mississippi have touted the benefits of more Mississippians going to college – not just to businesses and the , but to the state government’s bottom line. 

“Every increased percentage point to Mississippi’s attainment rate has the potential to net the state $20 million through reduced social service spending and increased state and local taxes,” one handout says.

The source for that data point, a 2021 paper by research firm ITHAKA-S+R, strikes a slightly different tone. Titled “It’s Complicated: The Relationship between Postsecondary Attainment and State Finances,” the report posited that increased educational attainment would help states spend less money on Medicaid and welfare – as college graduates typically need less social services – and generate more revenue in the form of increased property and income taxes. 

Mississippi, the report found, would see some of the smallest savings in the country on welfare with increased educational attainment. Eliminating the state income tax – which Reeves pledged to do at this year’s Hobnob, where MEC distributed these fliers – would also significantly reduce the potential savings. 

“The revenue coming from income tax is quite significant and definitely the majority of the tax revenue that the state is deriving,” James Ward, who co-authored the paper, told Mississippi Today. “To eliminate that would definitely take a big hit in terms of the potential benefits of increasing attainment because attainment is linked to those higher salaries where you’re getting that additional income tax.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers haven’t expressed interest in policies that research has shown will support more postsecondary attainment, such as increasing need-based financial aid and expanding college financial aid to adult learners. 

Massey anticipates the strategic plan will be finished before the middle of next year and is still sorting out what metrics the plan should measure. She hopes to build a database the public can use to track the state’s progress.

“I think the key is that we all work together, and we understand this is not going to happen overnight, but it’s absolutely vital that we do increase our attainment rate,” she said. 

Editor’s note: Woodward Hines Education Foundation is a financial supporter of Mississippi Today.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Why Mississippi’s 3.6% unemployment rate isn’t the full picture of what businesses are facing


Why Mississippi’s 3.6% unemployment rate isn’t the full picture of what businesses are facing

— When announced plans this summer to hire more than 2,000 workers, they put perks up front: day-one benefits, 12 paid holidays, competitive pay. 

And don’t forget the on-site Chick-Fil-A. The company says it has invested nearly $1 billion in its local facility. 

“Attracting skilled workers is a top priority for Ingalls,” said spokesperson Kimberly Aguillard. “We are committed to finding and training the talent we need to build quality ships for our customers.” 

Mississippi businesses are learning they have to pull out all the stops if they want to attract and retain workers. Economic uncertainty is looming overhead, inflation has pushed up costs and businesses from restaurants to shipbuilders and business services are struggling to fill all their needed positions.

“Workforce is the single biggest issue we face in the of Mississippi as a whole,” said Ashley Edwards, the president of the Gulf Coast Business Council. “That is certainly echoed in business leaders across the Coast. They are very concerned about, and very focused on, workforce questions and workforce challenges.”

Mississippi gained back the bulk of jobs it lost during the pandemic but those gains stalled out over the last few months. The state is still about 2,000 jobs short of where it was before the pandemic began, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Mississippi employment market has remained relatively flat over the last six months, without any major losses or gains. 

“Our has definitely slowed down along with the U.S.,” said state economist Corey Miller, referring to Mississippi. “But I don’t think we’re in a recession at present, but it’s still 50/50 if we will be in one within the next 12 months.” 

That uncertainty has businesses on edge as they struggle to hire new workers. Miller said for every one person hired in a job, there’s still 1.5 openings – a statistic he said is true in both Mississippi and nationwide. 

The state’s unemployment rate – now about 3.6% – has fallen to historic lows, but that’s not a full picture of what Mississippi businesses are facing. Economists say they still don’t have a great understanding of why people haven’t come back to the labor force entirely. 

“The labor force is still smaller than it was before the pandemic,” Miller said. “Some of those people who are no longer unemployed are not in the labor force and that’s a phenomenon we have seen across the country.”

Mississippi’s labor participation rate – the percentage of working or looking for work – is about 55%, according to BLS data. That’s about where it was before the pandemic began. But it’s much lower than the national average of about 62%. 

“We want to dig into that more,” said Ryan Miller, the director of workforce development office Accelerate Mississippi. “Job rates are getting back to pre-COVID levels and yet we see labor participation rate, on the surface, could be better. We want to understand why and how we can move the needle.” 

Accelerate Mississippi plans to commission a study to better understand the gaps between unemployment and the labor participation rate.

Ryan Miller – no relation to the state economist – said another thing his office is tackling is the barriers that may be keeping people from entering the traditional workforce, such as child care. 

“What are the factors in the lives of Mississippains that are keeping them from engaging in the workforce?” he posed. “For specific population sectors, one of them being single mothers, they would probably love to participate in training (for a better job) but they can’t get the childcare and don’t have the latitude to participate.” 

Accelerate Mississippi is looking into how new programming could help, like creating non-traditional child care options for when workers are in training classes for in-demand skilled work. 

Experts largely agree the issue is more complex than the people simply don’t want to work anymore.

“There are probably folks who would rather not work,” said Miller, whose focus is getting more Missisippians in good-paying jobs to raise the state’s average wages. “But I think there are more Mississippians who if given the opportunity to the pathway to … have an opportunity to grow a skill, a chance for advancement, they’d take that.” 

Jobs in accommodations and food services are slowly building back to pre-pandemic numbers, but restaurants are not only dealing with the inability to find workers but increased costs from inflation. The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association says 55% of operators surveyed reported their businesses are understaffed and they do not not have enough employees to support demand. 

The same survey found 79% of Mississippi restaurants say they’re less profitable now than they were in 2019. 

The shortages have pushed up some pay for workers. But when looking at wages Mississippi-wide, the state economist predicts most gains will be a wash due to inflation. 

Edwards, with the Gulf Coast Business Council, said business leaders are focusing their attention on recruitment efforts. Those needs will only be amplified as more baby boomers exit the workforce, Edwards said. 

The pandemic spurred what many call “the Great Resignation,” where time off from work made many realize they wanted to start new careers, find a better work-life balance, or retire.

“Businesses are still coming to terms with the shift,” Edwards said.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Ingalls Shipbuilding – Pipe Welder


2022-08-23 16:19:38, 1661289578

Join our team! Watch this to see how Gregory Howard and DeNeil Stork found their purpose as pipe welders at HII’s …

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Ingalls Shipbuilding holds keel authentication ceremony

171 views – Ansley Brent – 2022-08-16 17:42:58

A hero is being remembered in as hosts a keel authentication ceremony for the new Arleigh-burke class destroyer.

A new destroyer being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding will carry the name and the legacy of one of the Navy’s own.

Family, friends, constituents, and fellow senators gathered for the keel authentication ceremony for the Arleigh-burke class guided missile destroyer Jeremiah Denton.

The DDG 129 is named in honor of the former U.S. senator and Navy veteran. He was a Vietnam War veteran who was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism…

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Senate passes anti-vaccine mandate bill


Senate passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

The Senate after much debate — and efforts to make the measure stronger — passed a House bill to prohibit private companies and Mississippi governments from requiring vaccination of employees over their “sincerely held religious objections.”

But the Senate added a change to the bill to ensure more debate and scrutiny before it could be sent to the governor and signed into law. This was out of fear that the measure could jeopardize federal funding for universities.

The Senate passed House Bill 1509 on a 36-15, party line vote with Republicans in favor. The bill, authored by Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, passed the House in a mostly party line vote in January.

“The Senate passed a strong, conservative bill which protects employees and children attending school in Mississippi from a COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” said Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. “I personally support a broader bill providing a religious exemption for vaccine requirements for schools and will support that provision when it is properly before the Senate.”

READ MORE: House passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, offered an amendment to provide such a broad exemption from any vaccine requirements, not just COVID-19. But a point of order was raised that the original bill applied only to COVID-19 and his amendment was too expansive. Hosemann ruled it was too expansive an amendment. McDaniel took the unusual step of appealing Hosemann’s ruling to the full Senate, which voted 34-16 to uphold Hosemann’s ruling.

“This may not seem like a issue, but it is a civil rights issue — the right of people to control what goes into their body,” McDaniel said.

A group of supporters of the vaccine mandate ban packed the Senate gallery, and had to be warned twice by Hosemann to stop cheering when lawmakers made anti-vaccine mandate statements.

Sen. Chad McMahan, R-Tupelo, offered an unsuccessful amendment to allow a medical-condition exemption to any vaccine mandate. Although his amendment failed, he was assured that is already in state law.

“We’re here today because the federal government overstepped its authority to tell people they have to take an experimental vaccine,” McMahan said.

Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-, told his colleagues he represents “ground zero” for vaccine mandates, with in his district. The shipyard enacted a vaccine mandate, but later suspended it as 20% of its 11,500 employees faced termination for not being vaccinated.

“Those employees shouldn’t be put in the position at all,” Wiggins said.

But Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, questioned whether the bill could jeopardize community health.

“So the rights of the individual trump the rights of society?” Horhn said, drawing a loud cheer from supporters of the bill in the gallery. “Their rights are going to trump the safety of a whole city, whole community or the whole state? By pushing individual rights, we could be putting a lot of people at risk.”

“That’s a risk we’re willing to take for protecting individual rights,” said Sen. Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville.

But DeBar successfully added a “reverse repealer” amendment to the measure to provide more time to scrutinize the bill and make sure it doesn’t “jeopardize federal funds for IHL.” This means the House and Senate would have to vote on the measure again before it could be signed into law.

The bill is a response to a battle raging since last year between those opposed to various COVID-19 vaccine mandates issued by . Some of those mandates have been upheld by the federal courts while others have not.

Besides exempting employees of private businesses from the vaccine mandate, it also would prohibit state and local governmental entities from forcing a vaccine mandate on their employees and would prohibit those entities from withholding services from people who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

The bill would also apply to the National Guard. The U.S. Department of Defense has mandated a vaccine mandate for members of the National Guard. That issue is in the federal courts.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Ingalls Shipbuilding holds Keel Authentication Ceremony for Ted Stevens DDG 128

141 views – Janae Jordan – 2022-03-09 17:43:11

hosted a keel authentication ceremony for the Ted Stevens DDG 128.

To formally mark the start of the construction on the Arleigh-Burke Class guided missile destroyer Ted Stevens, DDG 128, a keel laying ceremony took place with the family of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. DDG 51 Program Manager John Fillmore said, “As much as he devoted his life to public service, over 40 years as a senator, a lot of…

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Mississippi House passes anti-vaccine mandate bill


House passes anti-vaccine mandate bill

The Mississippi House unexpectedly took up and passed legislation Thursday that would prevent private companies from forcing their employees to get a vaccination over “sincerely held religious objections.”

The bill, authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, is a response to a battle currently raging between those opposed to various COVID-19 vaccine mandates issued by . Some of those mandates have been upheld by the federal courts while others have not.

The bill passed 74-41 with all Democrats except Rep. Tom Miles of Forest no.

Besides exempting employees of private businesses from the vaccine mandate, it also would prohibit and local governmental entities from forcing a vaccine mandate on their employees and would prohibit those entities from withholding services from people who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

The bill also would apply to the National Guard. The U.S. Department of Defense has mandated a vaccine mandate for members of the National Guard. That issue currently is in the federal courts.

There was lengthy, at times terse, debate on the bill and House Public Health Chairman Sam Mims, R-McComb, had to field many questions.

“I don’t see where this bill defines sincerely held religious beliefs,” said Rep. Shanda Yates, I-Jackson. “… Or who has the burden of proof, employees or employer? So we’re opening up all our employers to lawsuits. Our pro-business, Republican-led supermajority is going after our private businesses.”

“Would this apply to the Mississippi National Guard?” Rep. Ed Blackmon, D-Canton, asked, to which the answer was yes.

Rep. Reynolds, D-Charleston, said that George Washington in 1777 ordered Continental troops be vaccinated for smallpox that was raging through the country at the time. “There is a precedent for vaccination in our National Guard,” Reynolds said.

Mims said, “We are giving religious liberty to our public and private employees in Mississippi … It will be up to that employer to verify that employee’s sincerity.”

Rep. Percy Watson, D-Hattiesburg, said, “Maybe I missed something. We are still in a pandemic, aren’t we?”

Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, after the vote said: “So, we’ve said that a business doesn’t have to serve someone if they are LGBTQ, doesn’t have to bake them a cake or anything if they don’t want to. But with this we’re telling them they have to serve or employ someone? I guess they just pick and choose who has liberty or rights.”

Hines was referring to a bill passed in 2016 that allowed entities not to provide services based on religious reasons.

It is not clear what the impact of the legislation will be. Most of the vaccine mandates proposed by the president have included religious exceptions or an opportunity for people who choose not to be vaccinated to undergo regular testing for COVID-19. And few if any governmental entities in the state have imposed vaccine mandates.

It also is unclear how many Mississippi companies, such as on the Gulf Coast, would be impacted by the legislation if the president ultimately prevails in the courts on his mandate that companies and entities that receive federal funds require its employees to be vaccinated.

The bill could place Ingalls, which is dependent on federal contracts, in a precarious situation of having to choose to obey state or federal mandates.

Mims said the legislation would not ease the multiple vaccine mandates currently in state law for students both in secondary schools and in colleges and universities.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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