As published in the Las Cruces Bulletin, June 18, 2021
Long before COVID, Doña Ana County set out on a comprehensive workforce development effort to ensure our people had access to everything they’d need to be a part of the amazing careers right here in our community.
It began with building and mapping career pathways from high school to college and university, included Workforce Connections, and led to some of the best jobs in our top eight industries: Healthcare, Aerospace, Defense, Digital Media, Energy, Value-Added Agriculture, Advanced Manufacturing, and Transportation and Logistics.
But since then, the work of the Workforce Talent Collaborative in partnership with The Bridge of Southern New Mexico has expanded dramatically – uniquely positioning our county for economic recovery post-COVID. Our collective work never stopped during the shutdown – it only became more urgent.
Now that reopening lies just ahead of us, we took time to revisit what we set out to do together and celebrate just how far we have come, opening new opportunities and resources to help our people and our businesses access everything they need to emerge from COVID hopefully stronger than before.
We have mobilized on numerous solutions, thanks to the strengths of our relationships and state-leading research, evaluation, and action. In fact, together we now have at a minimum gained funding, resources, and/or oversight of $42.6 million to support the goals, objectives, and actions that we set out to do together.
Here’s a list of just some of this amazing group’s collective accomplishments.
$1.1 million annually for Career and Technical Education now supports high school and college courses that prepare students for many of the highest-potential careers in our community’s top eight industries.
$865,000 three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports Community Action of Southern New Mexico’s Thriving Families pilot program to help families strengthen their earning power through education, training, and employment in our top industries
$72,000 in grants to The Bridge to bring employers into closer collaboration with education and workforce providers by understanding and communicating the top credentials, degrees, and skills needed in their industries and opening new work-based learning opportunities for teachers and students
$90,000 from the New Mexico Legislature to the South-Central Regional Transit to support transportation from Las Cruces to the great jobs in the Santa Teresa Industrial Parks
$37,000 to The Bridge to build out New Mexico True Talent, a one-stop, bilingual website and mobile app to shine a light on these amazing opportunities and how to prepare for them
$10,000 to bring a STEM-focused, social/emotional support program called EduGuide to middle school students in the Gadsden district
We are currently working with four local employers and all three districts to launch cross-district virtual internships for high school students in Aerospace, International Trade, and Digital Media.
The City of Las Cruces worked through their Human Resources Department to hire a Career Coordinator to launch new efforts in mentorship and internships for high school students.
Dona Ana Community College is working in close partnership with the City of Las Cruces on two new educational efforts for those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding
Thanks to the state-leading work of this group, we now have three members of our Collaborative on the State Workforce Development Board, which oversees annual funding of approximately $25 million, and three other members on the Southwestern Area Workforce Development Board which serves our county and six others with about $5.5 million.
As we’ve always said, the power of our community lies in the power of our collaboration…working together toward common goals. TOGETHER, we know we will see a strong economic recovery for people, families, and communities, as we emerge from the COVID pandemic.
Thank you to all of the members of the Workforce Talent Collaborative who have made these and so many more accomplishments possible!