Skills That Pay Awards $15,500 in Signing Bonuses to 14 Students

Skills That Pay, an awareness campaign by The Skills Foundation of Mississippi, held signing ceremonies at four high schools across Mississippi this month. In total, The Skills Foundation awarded over $15,000 in “signing bonuses” to 14 high school seniors pursuing in-demand skilled careers.

Graduating seniors entering fields such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare, energy, IT, and transportation were given the opportunity to apply for Skills That Pay signing bonuses by submitting videos describing which programs they were attending, their future career plans, and how they would use the money. The signing bonuses of $1,000 each will go to students’ expenses during their training like equipment, books, and transportation.

Skills That Pay also awarded the first ever Ergon Foundation Excellence Award, which goes to the best submission overall. This year’s winner was Asia Barlow of Hattiesburg High School. Asia plans to go into commercial truck driving and hopes to start and run her own trucking business. Along with the award, Asia received $1,500 in addition to her $1,000 signing bonus.

“It was a huge honor to award these students with signing bonuses and recognize them for their outstanding achievements and wise decision to pursue high-demand skilled careers that offer great wages and benefits,” said Clifton Carroll, Executive Director of The Skills Foundation. “Mississippi has a shortage of workers in these fields, which means employers will pay premium wages for talented workers with the right skill set. These students are setting themselves up for long-term success and making Mississippi’s communities and economy stronger. We couldn’t be prouder of these young men and women.”

Skills That Pay signing ceremonies were sponsored this year by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Cooperative Energy, and Dixie Electric.

Carroll added, “We deeply appreciate the partnerships with TVA, Cooperative Energy, and Dixie Electric. Not only are these companies providing crucial services to their communities, but they’re also dedicated to enhancing the lives of Mississippians and growing our state’s workforce. Their support of Skills That Pay is one of many examples of their devotion to improving Mississippi’s economic outlook and going above and beyond to create more opportunities for success and prosperity for the incredible people who live here.”

Petal Awardees Makayla Newman, Jacqueline Flores, and Tyrell Sims with Career Coach Abiola Ayanfalu

Itawamba Agricultural High School Awardees Abigail Wilson, Kylee King, Alyseia Adams, Kaylee Moore, and Olivia Bennett with Rep. Donnie Bell, TVA representative Martha Swindle, and Skills That Pay personnel

North Panola Awardees Jykeria Black & Nikyla Newson

Hattiesburg Awardees Antonio Middleton, Asia Barlow, Javion Freche, and Anthony Walker

Ergon Foundation Excellence Award winner Asia Barlow

The Skills Foundation launched Skills That Pay in the Pine Belt area in December 2022 to educate parents, students, and other stakeholders on the many benefits of working in skilled industries. In 2023, the campaign expanded its footprint to include North Mississippi, and continued to grow its reach into 2024 with plans to become a statewide program within the next two years.

The Skills Foundation of Mississippi is a non-profit focused on increasing the skilled workforce in our state. They work to engage private industry, communities, and state leaders to identify the highest-quality, in-demand career opportunities and encourage more Mississippians to pursue them.

Scroll to Top