Many of the opportunities for our area are dependent on having a trade or skill. However, in our schools we do not have the opportunity. We do not have the necessary safety (our safety certification of our shops and laboratories was supported until 2016 along with instructor training support) nor the equipment to be able to run a functioning Career Technical Education classroom. Equipment is worn and either replaced with substandard equipment or sold off. An example is a high school that changed focus to performing arts, sold the wood shop equipment and changed the room into a theater/drama training classroom. There are not currently any trades programs within that high school as our older teachers are retiring new instructors do not possess the industry knowledge and/or have access to training. Changes need to be made to build our workforce. Access to adequate basic training, safety and use of industry standard equipment are some of the issues facing CTE in New Mexico high schools.
As we transition into Perkins V we have begun the process of working closer with our local Workforce Solutions to correlate the data to our federal Perkins Grant need’s assessment. The numbers of students participating in dual credit is stagnant, leaving many to ask what is the cause? The largest obstacle facing our students in our local area is access to equable opportunities including access to transportation. If students do not have transportation it is impossible for them to participate in dual credit, pre-apprenticeship programs and other early field based work-experiences. This is one of the largest barriers facing all of our students in the city, county, and state. Many students can get to the high school with the school bus but without further transportation are left at the high school with inferior equipment to teach a CTE student.
This disparity has helped perpetuate the cycle of poverty in our area. Some individuals in our area would like to keep the system the same. Access to dual credit programs has dropped substantially since the policy of 2+2 articulation has been removed, thus removing another opportunity for our students. Removing the barriers for our students will only strengthen our workforce, but build our local economy through direct connections with business and industry. The very connections looking for students with skills and certifications
As the emphasis has moved back to producing a skilled workforce, we need to reestablish many of our programs or bring up to industry and safety standards while providing continuing education opportunities for our instructors. Some of the solutions seem simple but will take a change in mindset by the stakeholders. An infusion of startup money is required to bring our programs back to where they should be. This involves a community brining all of the stakeholders to the table and find viable solutions to our equity issues.
Some of the options available in our area is to pay for a bus with a designated bus driver to take students daily to our dual credit partners, offer articulated 2+2 dual credit on high school campuses, and allow our local industry build our programs back to industry with viable safety standards. We are currently exploring all of our options with our state and local decision makers. We will continue to bring our state government to the table to work on access to equable education for all New Mexicans.
All need to be educated on Department of Labor youth training laws: