Moving trucking, jewelry makes economic sense for all - Albuquerque Journal

Moving trucking, jewelry makes economic sense for all

As a lifelong supporter of economic development and workforce training in central New Mexico, I paid close attention when there were recent news reports about Central New Mexico Community College recommending that a couple college-credit programs be transitioned into new formats as workforce training programs.

CNM recommended its 15-week college-credit truck driving program and its assets be transitioned into the CNM Ingenuity arm of the college, where its existing four-week, 40 hours per week truck driving program is a more efficient and effective workforce training option for aspiring truck drivers and the many employers seeking to hire them. CNM also recommended its college-credit bench jewelry program be transitioned into CNM Ingenuity as a workforce training program that can more easily be scaled up and down to meet fluctuating industry demand for bench jewelers.

I’ve been involved in various business and economic development ventures through the years, and I’ve always appreciated and valued the critical role CNM serves in training the skilled workforce we need to grow our region’s economy. When CNM decided to move forward with plans to build a Workforce Training Center in north Albuquerque in the 1990s to expand its ability to deliver non-credit, customized workforce training for local business and industry, I fully supported the effort and helped lead fundraising efforts. I got involved in this effort because providing high-quality training opportunities to develop a skilled workforce is essential for building a strong economy.

Most community college programs are better suited for the more traditional, college-credit, semester-based formats that lead to an associate degree or a certificate. Other programs, however, are better suited as non-credit, workforce training options that provide a quicker path to good jobs with employers that put more of a premium on proven skill acquisition than degree attainment.

A college degree or certificate is not required to become a truck driver or bench jewelry maker. Only proof of mastering the skills for these professions is required – for a truck driver, it’s by learning and practicing the necessary skills in a training program, then passing the Commercial Driver License exam to demonstrate the skills have been learned; for a bench jewelry maker, it’s also by acquiring very specific skills that can be demonstrated and validated by the completion of a training program.

In my 30-plus years of working with CNM on various workforce training and economic development efforts, I’ve always been very impressed with how responsive our community college has been to student and employer needs. CNM has developed and maintained strong partnerships with local employers, which constantly leads to changes in how a program is taught or delivered depending on the evolution of an industry’s workforce needs.

Transitioning the truck driving and bench jewelry programs from CNM’s traditional college-credit offerings to CNM Ingenuity’s more accelerated and cost-effective workforce training format makes sense. Truck driving students will get the quality training they need through CNM Ingenuity to get a good-paying job after just four or five weeks of training, allowing the professional paychecks to start landing in their bank accounts much quicker. Meanwhile, the program produces professional truck drivers for employers to hire every four to five weeks instead of every 15 weeks.

The CNM Governing Board Planning Committee approved the recommendation on April 27. Now it will go to the full CNM Governing Board for final action today, May 10.

As we know today more than ever, time is money, for both students and employers. For these two particular programs, I believe CNM made recommendations that are in the best interests of students, employers, taxpayers, our economy and our community college.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Moving trucking, jewelry makes economic sense for all


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