Blogging @ CNM

Central New Mexico Community College


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How Can We See the Future Workforce More Clearly

Hello CNM!

Hope you’re having a great week. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about what other community colleges around the country are doing to help support economic development and job creation, looking for new ideas that can help us increase our impact on economic development in central New Mexico.

Sometimes I come across great new ideas we haven’t considered before at CNM. But many times I come across things that might be new at other colleges that we’ve been doing here for a number of years. It always makes me feel so proud of CNM when I realize that we’re ahead of the curve in a certain area.

That was the case when I read a Community College Journal story headlined “Community Colleges Use Detailed Reports to Design Smarter Workforce Training and Education Programs.” It talks about a community college in Washington state that used data produced by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) to figure out what programs it should be offering to spur economic development and provide community members better job opportunities. EMSI uses labor market data and economic impact studies to assess and forecast employment trends.

At CNM, we’ve been using EMSI for several years to help us anticipate job market changes and adjust our programs accordingly. We’ve even provided EMSI data as a tool to inform students on education and career decisions. CNM’s Career Coach web page gives students extremely valuable information to consider when making the choices that will shape their future.

Say a student is considering a path leading to a career in nursing. Career Coach gives students the average salary for nurses in the area, the estimated number of annual job openings, the number of nurses nearing retirement age, and current job postings, among other valuable info. It’s a terrific resource.

Relying on data when making important decisions is always a prudent way forward, when reliable data is available and relates to the decision at hand. The right data, however, isn’t always available at the moment we want it. Sometimes, for instance, as the story points out, you have to keep your ear to the ground. We often hear from the business community about what they need now, before the need shows up in big data reports.

In recent months, we’ve been hearing from many business leaders that our business community needs more computer system developers and more entrepreneurs. So, right now, we’re looking into ways that CNM could better meet those needs for our economy.

Are there other ways that CNM can be proactive in figuring out what our economy needs now and in the near future? Can we do more to better interpret big data and anticipate the future?

Please read the Community College Journal story and let’s talk about it.


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How Can We Generate More Revenue to Train the Workforce of Tomorrow?

Hello CNM!

I hope all of you are having a great spring term.

Just felt the urge to write a blog post after coming across a compelling and very timely story that recently aired on National Public Radio. The story reiterates a commonly held belief these days – that community colleges are the natural solution for quickly providing Americans with the skills they need to improve our workforce, which spurs economic growth and quality job creation. Obviously, we desperately need all of the above in New Mexico.

The rub is that training the workforce of today isn’t cheap. As a Board representative for a community college in Iowa says in the NPR story, “The concerning thing is that training the workforce is very expensive. We can’t afford to train someone to be a welder on a welding machine that was donated to us 10 years ago. And the cost of training those workers is so much higher. We actually lose money on every single student we train.”

Plenty of studies have shown that community colleges are woefully underfunded. And with persistently challenging economic conditions, there are no signs that the state or federal governments are going to significantly increase community college funding in the foreseeable future.

So how should we adapt to help our state and our country? Could we generate new revenue streams? Could we develop new partnership prototypes with private industry that would lead to more funding?

I encourage all of our faculty and staff to read the transcript of this NPR story and let me know what you think. Please post your thoughts and let’s have a conversation.