A familiar refrain from New Mexico businesses is they have jobs available but no applicants with the specific skills required. Meanwhile, workers stuck in “dead end” jobs who hope to acquire those skills face the daunting task of entering, or returning to, college as non-traditional students.
Bridging the gap between employers and so-called “underemployed” workers is Graduate! ABQ, a new program that helps adult workers navigate their way to, or back to, college.
Graduate! ABQ’s “coaches” help clients identify college programs that suit their individual needs and interests, enroll and tap into support networks on campus. They also help find financial resources, offering assistance with paperwork like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and identifying grant programs that might apply.
Since February, Graduate! ABQ has worked with about 50 clients, according to Dan Mendelsohn, program director and head coach. Graduate! ABQ is part of Mission: Graduate, a 10-year effort housed at United Way of Central New Mexico that aims to bolster the Albuquerque area’s college-educated ranks by 60,000 by 2020. The ultimate goal is to have a well-qualified, upwardly mobile workforce that can help the state rise from the bottom of so many quality-of-life lists.
Graduate! ABQ brings together partners including New Mexico Workforce Connection Central Region, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the city of Albuquerque, CNM and the University of New Mexico. Coaches work out of the New Mexico Workforce Connection office in Albuquerque.
If you’re an adult looking to improve skills – and income – by obtaining required certifications or degrees, you can reach a Graduate! ABQ coach at 843-1989, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website, graduateabq.org.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.