Going Where the Jobs Are

As published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, October 5, 2020

Six months of COVID have had a crushing impact on employment in our county. 

As of August, Doña Ana County’s unemployment rate was 10.9%, or 10,000 people, literally twice the unemployment rate pre-COVID. To put it in perspective it’s 18 unemployed people for every one person diagnosed with COVID in the past month.

study by the University of Chicago predicted as many as 42% (2 out of every 5) jobs may not come back. That is why those who’ve become displaced from their previous jobs need to act now to reskill or upskill to increase their ability to enter new fields, possibly in jobs that pay more than those they had to leave.

Recovery for them and our community requires we accelerate the connections in the “ecosystem of opportunity” that we (The Bridge of Southern New Mexico and the Workforce Talent Collaborative) have been working on, as we seek to connect our people to training, education, and/or jobs that ARE open now and looking for talent.

As part of our work to inform the “ecosystem,” we recently partnered with the Border Industrial Association to complete our second Industry Roundtable for employers in the International Trade Industry. Thanks to the participation of about 10% of the 80-100 International Trade companies in our county, many in Santa Teresa, we were able to map out a much clearer picture of the workforce needs of some of these employers. These companies are in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, warehousing, and more. They are part of the $30 billion in trade that takes place at the nation’s fifth largest port – Santa Teresa.

We surveyed the employers and spoke in greater depth about their workforce challenges and needs. What did we learn and how can that help members of our community reengage in jobs right away? 

First, we learned that there are always job openings among these employers. They pay anywhere from $25,000 to $65,000 on average, based on the skills and experience needed. These jobs do offer standard benefits like healthcare. Just these few employers reported hiring 200 people a year and reported having difficulty filling jobs at all skill levels. Some of those jobs include:

  • Machine Operators
  • Forklift Operators
  • Material Handlers
  • Clerks
  • Supervisors
  • Team Leaders
  • Diesel Mechanics and Electricians
  • Installation Technicians
  • Sr. Electrical Technicians

Jobs in this industry are diverse in the level of skills, certificates, and degrees needed. The top skills job candidates need include:

  • Applying information that is read
  • Using computers and computer programs
  • Using mobile devices
  • Entering data
  • Evaluating the credibility of digital sources
  • Inventory control

Roundtable members also listed the top trades and certificates they value:

  • Forklift certifications
  • Welding
  • Association for Supply Chain Management Credentials
  • Business Administration
  • Commercial Drivers License
  • Diesel or Auto Mechanics
  • MS Office
  • Equipment Operators
  • Electrical
  • Maintenance

Other jobs are available for those with two-year degrees in:

  • Maintenance/Mechanical
  • Welding
  • Electrical
  • Accounting/Bookkeeping
  • Operations
  • Diesel Mechanic or Automotive
  • Logistics
  • Electrician
  • Computer Literacy
  • Business Administration

Four-year degrees that are valued by the. Roundtable include:

  • Engineering
  • Supply Chain/Logistics
  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Marketing

Because these employers place a high value on experience, there are also job prospects for those who may have been in other industries, including automotive, construction and welding, oil and gas, mining, and law enforcement. 

So, how can our neighbors connect to these jobs or the training needed to move into this industry? We are so fortunate to have partners in both Workforce Connections and Doña Ana Community College (DACC) ready to help.

To learn more, visit NewMexicoTrueTalent.org and click on the button, “Your Guide to COVID-19 Recovery.” That button will take you directly to links for our local Workforce Connections offices and DACC’s skills-based training. You can also learn more and virtually “meet” some of the people who can help by visiting our new YouTube channel – New Mexico True Talent.