• Erin Berg

Mississippi Furniture Academy launches certification program

TUPELO, Miss. – Mississippi State University (MSU) has launched the Mississippi Furniture Academy, a new manufacturing skills certification program created as part of a workforce development initiative.

In a news conference Thursday held at the Tupelo Furniture Market, MSU President Mark E. Keenum discussed the university's role in the initiative. Other speakers included Governor Phil Bryan, Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. of the Mississippi Development Authority; President Mike Eaton of the Itawamba Community College; and Rusty Berryhill, president of Kevin Charles Furniture.

MSU FFIParticipating manufacturers offer higher starting pay rate to those certified through the academy.

MSU has partnered with Itawamba Community College, Northeast Mississippi Community College, Community Development Foundation, Three Rivers Planning and Development District and four furniture manufacturers to alleviate the skilled labor shortage in furniture manufacturing in the state.

The program is designed to prepare individuals for a furniture career, and the curriculum is comprised of 28 hours of coursework in: furniture manufacturing, teamwork and problem solving, work ethics, financial awareness and life skills, work keys, OSHA 10 certification, and job pass certification.

Individuals who complete the program are guaranteed job interviews with many furniture manufacturers in Mississippi and considered preferred candidates over equally qualified individuals who did not attend the academy. A higher starting pay rate is also possible from select manufacturers.

The first program will start in February at the two partner community colleges and its satellite campuses which cover about 90% of the cluster of Mississippi furniture manufacturers, according to Bill Martin, director of the Franklin Furniture Institute at MSU.

The group of manufacturers that helped in the development of the program includes H.M. Richards, HomeStretch, Kevin Charles, Max Home and Southern Motion.

Erin BergErin Berg | Associate Editor

Erin Berg is an Associate Editor for Furniture/Today. After earning her B. A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California, Erin began her career in marketing where she served clients in a wide variety of industries from film and television entertainment to aviation. Erin lived in Italy and four different states before landing in North Carolina in 2009.

Erin can be reached at EBerg@furnituretoday.com or at 336-605-1040.

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