What’s Ahead for Connection Education, Employment, and Economic Development

As published in the Las Cruces Bulletin, February 19, 2021

Leaders lead…and in Doña Ana County, we are leaders in the state! 

That’s why our people are going to be a part of two projects currently underway with the New Mexico Public Education Department focused on strengthening the “bridge” between education and employment. 

New Mexico secured two Federal grants recently – one to develop the first curricula that combines high school math and geometry instruction with high-demand, high-wage career applications and the second to develop and deploy a next-generation approach to career exploration for students that brings industry, education, and economic development into the same conversation.

Dr. Joseph Goins, president of NS4ed, is working in partnership with the state on both projects and is a long-time partner with The Bridge of Southern New Mexico. Thanks to the solid foundation of cross-sector relationships, career pathways, and employer engagement build through the Workforce Talent Collaborative, the voices and involvement of Doña Ana County will be key players in both projects.

For the curriculum project, each lesson will be available online to all schools in New Mexico. Accompanying actual explanations of various careers will be testimonial videos of real New Mexicans doing these jobs in high-demand, skilled- and technical-, high-wage careers. 

They will answer questions like:

  • Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up where you did? Do you have any interesting stories from your childhood that you think happened to you only because of where you grew up?
  • Thinking back to when you were in high school, what classes did you take that taught you skills that you use today at your job or at home?
  • What are any interpersonal or ‘soft’ skills you have learned that you use at your job or at home? These could be anything from, ‘I arrive 10 minutes early because being on‐time is the same as being late.’ Or ‘I listen twice as much as I speak because I have two ears and one mouth for a reason.’
  • Do you need a certification or special license to do your job? How did you earn that?
  • What does your typical day at work look like? What do you actually do at work? What is your favorite part of your job? What part of the day do you look forward to the most?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What is the next step in your career? What is one thing you are doing right now to prepare you for that next step?

We are collecting interviews now. If you would like to participate, you can reach out to me directly at TraceyBryan@thebridgeofsnm.org or by calling 575-646-2527.

For the second project, it’s only just the beginning, but our partners in this county will work with the project team on the initial design and testing. It helps address the issue that, as stated by the former head of the Association of Career and Technical Education, “Children cannot become what they cannot see.”

Traditionally, career awareness began in high school or college. This project backs it up into the middle schools, the ideal time to start exposing students to a host of careers they may never even of dreamed of pursuing, mostly because they simply didn’t know they existed. 

The project will design a step-by-step progression of career awareness, understanding, and planning from 6th through 12th grade. It will include a strong employer presence, mirror local workforce needs, and support regional career and economic growth opportunities. 

Thanks to the strong partnerships built by The Bridge of Southern New Mexico and among members of the Workforce Talent Collaborative, Doña Ana County will, once again, be ready to lead!