One of Gov. Phil Bryant’s favorite phrases is, “Mississippi wins with people,” when referring to the state’s economic development efforts.
With state unemployment near a record low, it seems the state is doing what it needs to do when it comes to landing the businesses and industries and growing the ranks of tax-paying workers.
“Winning with people” suggests that companies are finding the workers they need and want. And by many regards, they are.
But at separate but related career and workforce development summits last week in Tupelo via the CREATE Foundation, local and regional economic development groups and the Appalachian Regional Commission, it was clear that companies are having more difficulty finding the workers they need. The issue has been bubbling beneath the surface for years, and ironically has only worsened as the overall economy has improved.
The problem of finding enough qualified workers has been exacerbated by a deterioration in what are called soft skills such as strong work ethic, leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving, time management and teamwork.