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Editorial: New initiatives aim to help students prepare for work

Having work experience before starting a new job can give anyone a leg up in the work world – and helping college and university students get that experience is the goal of a new online tool announced last week by Gov. Susana Martinez.

The “Students Work” portal, a joint effort of the Department of Workforce Solutions and the Higher Education Department, will allow students to search for internships and provide a way for businesses to look for interns who can fit their needs. The free service is expected to be available early next year.

“The difference these opportunities can make in our students’ professional development is huge,” state Education Secretary Barbara Damron said last week at Central New Mexico Community College.

The governor also is proposing a new full-time position within Workforce Solutions to work with businesses and promote how the portal can help them.

Also good news for information technology students at CNM will be internship opportunities starting in January. The college has received a $3 million federal American Apprenticeship grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to set up the program with the goal of creating 300 IT apprenticeships in central New Mexico over a three-year period.

CNM President Kathie Winograd said research shows students who have work opportunities are more likely to graduate because they see the benefit of getting a degree.

Among partners in the effort are the state, the city of Albuquerque, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Innovate+Educate/Talent ABQ, New Mexico Workforce Connection, New Mexico Technology Council and SUN PATH, a consortium of community colleges.

Both initiatives are in line with the goals of Mission Graduate, a collaboration of government, education and business leaders working to increase the number of people who earn college certificates and degrees in central New Mexico.

These are important investments that can help students have more successful careers while creating a more skilled and educated workforce to help diversify New Mexico’s economy.

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.