Originally published in the Las Cruces Sun-News on Monday, March 2, 2020
The gap between education and employment continues to widen and at lightning speed.
But coming up in our schools and colleges is a flood of future talent. They have unique gifts, talents, and skills. They are digital natives who have never known a world not driven by technology. They think differently. They see solutions to local and even global challenges that we couldn’t have even imagined a decade ago.
The challenge before us is to optimally prepare them for the future by exposing them to what’s real and relevant in the world of work so there are no gaps. Then, they can make wise choices along their educational journeys that transform them from possibility into opportunity for themselves and employer who desperately need them and will bring them into their workforce.
A small survey of employers statewide reflects the tension we currently face.
- 89% of employers have a hard time finding well qualified talent for a majority of jobs
- 86% of those jobs are for middle- and high-skilled workers
- Candidates don’t have the right skills, training, degrees and certifications, or work experience
This disconnect is creating a flood of students who either don’t complete their education or who do, but with degrees irrelevant to workforce needs. This is at the heart of the Grand Canyon-sized gaps for those with middle and technical skills.
Jobs for the Future’s Career Forward Task Force reported further on the lack of alignment from high school to college and from education to career:
- 89% of high school teachers think students are ready for college, but only 26% of college faculty agree
- 96% of college chief academic officers are confident in their institution’s ability to prepare students for workforce success, but only 11% of employers agree
Jobs for the Future also reported, “Roughly half of all Americans reach their mid-20s without the skills or credentials essential for success in today’s increasingly demanding economy.
We have people. We have jobs. Why can’t we seem to connect the dots?
Well, if we are ready to get serious about this, we can.
Step 1 – Put business at the forefront of the workforce talent pipeline. And right now, we have a prime opportunity to do so.
Doña Ana County will have more than $1 million to invest this next year in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs of our three school districts and Doña Ana Community College.
Career and Technical Education (CTE), when aligned to the needs of local business, industry, and economic development, connects the real-world learning our students need for future career success:
- Knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for career success
- Career credentials that increase their earning power after graduation
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills
- Employability or “soft” skills like problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and more
- Work-based, hands-on learning, including internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing
- Dual Credit Courses to secure college-level coursework and credentials
We desperately need our employers to understand their power to shape the future of their workforce just by showing up, as we make decisions about where to best invest this $1 million, and the millions that will follow in subsequent years, to build the future workforce talent they need.
We will be meeting:
Tuesday, March 10
8 a.m. to Noon
Doña Ana Community College Workforce Center
Las Cruces, NM 88001
You can register to attend (and select Region J) at: http://nmcteclna.com/index.php/gp-registration/
Or to learn more, contact Tracey Bryan, 575-646-2527.
We invite our business community (and our economic developers) to join us in this conversation that will chart the course of our collective future.
Together, we will be providing a literal launching pad to equip our New Mexico True Talent for future academic and employment or entrepreneurial success right here in our community!