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Nonprofit developing program to match student training to available jobs



New Mexico Gas Co. Economic Development and Community Affairs Manager Mary Homan, in the plaid jacket, presents a $30,000 grant from the company to the Sandoval Economic Alliance Board of Directors to help with SEA’s work. She made the presentation at the SEA quarterly luncheon Tuesday at Santa Ana Star Center.
(Argen Marie Duncan/Rio Rancho Observer)

To help education connect with employers’ needs, a New Mexico nonprofit is offering a program to assess skillsets and necessary training.

During the Sandoval Economic Alliance quarterly luncheon Tuesday at Santa Ana Star Center, Ferdi Serim, director of learning innovations with nonprofit Innovate+Educate, presented NextREADY, the digital skill-assessment system he invented, and a program in which it would help young people prepare for jobs. NextREADY is meant to help grow the economy by identifying qualified potential employees or showing what they need to learn to become qualified.

“We find there is a lot of work going on that’s necessary but not sufficient,” Serim said.

He said it’s hard for employers to find the people they need, so Innovate+Educate is trying to “rapidly accelerate the talent pipeline.”

Connecting training with employer needs takes collaboration among all levels of educational institutions, businesses and media, he said. Serim is asking employers to join in by providing an internship and spending about an hour a week giving feedback to the person in that position.

He said Innovate+Educate will meet with employers to find out what interns need to know to succeed in the program, and teachers train them as necessary.

Interns can enter evidence training and successful work into NextREADY, which will show their qualifications, new skills and what they still need to learn, Serim said. It helps manage the components of interns’ preparation for the workforce.

“We’re all about skills-based hiring in addition to the other methods that are used,” he said.

In New Mexico, if employers hire based on academic degrees, he said, 1 percent of people are qualified. If they consider skills, 33 percent more workers are qualified.

NextREADY helps employers see if someone has the skills to make it worth taking a chance on hiring him or her, Serim said. If potential employees can show they’ve learned how to learn, can manage their work and can produce a quality product, they’re better than many people a company might encounter, he said.

“I see it as a tool to support coaching” for entrepreneurship and entry-level positions, Serim said of NextREADY.

The system shows job applicants, as well as employers, when they’re ready for a position, he added.

“Our motivation just now is to get kids into the workforce,” Serim said.