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Central New Mexico Community College

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.

20 thoughts on “How Can We Generate More Revenue to Train the Workforce of Tomorrow?

  1. Kathie,

    The idea of partnering with business and convincing industry to foot more of the bill is a challenge indeed! Here are some ideas I have for the healthcare sector:

    1. We should meet with industry leaders and their in-house educators. Foster partnerships to see what training they are doing that could be “outsourced” to CNM. I am primarily thinking of their in-house training programs for rolling out new techniques/procedures and on boarding new employees on the clinical units. Perhaps a partnership to meeting these training needs would create a cost savings for the healthcare organization and may provide a revenue stream for CNM.
    2. Devise a “job readiness” rubric and use it as a part of our curriculum and assessment process. The current feedback loops (advisory boards and graduate surveys) we use to verify that our healthcare graduates are prepared for entry-level employment are not standardized in their approach and are inconsistently applied. If we adopted a standardized approach to assess job readiness, we may be able to better assure that we are “right sizing” our programs to provide only the necessary training to meet entry-level expectations. We need to do this in a way allows our graduates to enter the workforce and quickly make a valuable contribution for their new employers. Consistently ensuring job readiness of (while not over preparing) our graduates would allow CNM to minimize our initial training costs and would also allow industry to minimize their cost of on-boarding new employees.
    3. Invest in the necessary human resources to run an accredited high fidelity simulation center. We already have made an amazing investment in the equipment and technology needed for a top-notch medical simulation center; all we need is leadership, organization, and perhaps a few more simulation technicians. This resource would be valuable in the medical community and could provide a sizable revenue stream. In the healthcare field, organizations are willing to make a significant investment to ensure their employs are technically competent and proficient in their skills. These organizations must demonstrate these competencies frequently. By outsourcing the requirement for annual skills competency to to an external vendor (CNM), the healthcare organization will likely realize a cost savings and receive third-party validation that their employees are competent medical providers.
    4. I believe there are some limited opportunities to create revenue streams in other areas such as becoming and American Heart Association (AHA) training center for CPR and advanced life support certifications. Perhaps some other types of industry continuing education offerings may also generate revenue. I believe both the AHA training center idea and offering healthcare continuing education are “break-even” ideas in terms of revenue generation.

    I reference to ideas 1-3, these are the true opportunities I see for our healthcare programs to either realize cost savings, increase revenue, or decrease time to graduation. Although I support these ideas, we would need some significant help getting the right players at the table and trying to foster agreements that create win-wins for both CNM and organizations choosing to partner with us.

    I hope this helps!


    • Great ideas Mike. It is these types of creative ideas that will help us become “the community college of the future today.”

      Like you, I think there are many ways for us to reach out to our business and industry partners in ways that will create a win-win situation for everyone involved.

      Keep those great ideas coming.

  2. Recruiting international students is definitely one way of generating revenue for community colleges. As I know, some community colleges in California are recruiting students from China. I don’t know what policies in New Mexico are, but we should explore the possibilities. I know there are lots of Chinese students who have sufficient funding themselves and are eager to study in US.

    • The University of New Mexico is focusing a great deal of effort on international recruitment of students. They have talked to us about partnering with them, where appropriate. I look forward to working with UNM on these initiatives.

  3. The unfortunate crux of the NPR story is the quote from Jean Torgeson: “We actually lose money on every single student we train.”
    But that is precisely the wrong way to look at our situation. Surely a better understanding is, “The investment we make in every single student we train does not pay off as immediately as we might wish.”

    Granted, as Claudio Sanchez told NPR, “Funding for community colleges in … just about every state has been slashed over the last 10 years.” This is the reality we face. But another part of that reality is, funding has begun to creep back up, and barring a double-dip recession this all-too-modest replenishment will continue. Even so, the halcyon days of higher education will not return; CNM and its peers will have to adapt—fully utilizing every niche and exploiting every opportunity while finding new niches and creating new opportunities.

    Happily, when it comes to using resources wisely, CNM is a leader already. Time and again, when “new” ideas and approaches emerge—student success and industry partnerships, for example—it turns out that CNM was already ahead of the game. As educators, though, we need to frame this conversation properly. After all, the expectation that community colleges would assume the job training roles formerly performed by private companies and labor unions is a comparatively recent development. And the startling notion that education institutions should be “revenue generators” is quite new.

    Perhaps some push-back is in order. Consider what Sara Goldrick-Rab told NPR. “I think the most promising pathway forward is what you’re hearing from states like Mississippi, and Tennessee and Oregon where there’s genuine interest in making the 13th and 14th years of education free.” Seriously, would this largesse cost more than an undereducated workforce? Probably not.

    As CNM, certainly, we have our job to do. And certainly we will do it. But we owe it to our communities, and to our political herdsmen, to make sure everyone understands that ours is a shared enterprise.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

    I share many of your opinions but I am not in agreement that funding is going to creep back up. What I am seeing is a totally new way of thinking about funding for education (e.g. NM’s current funding formula.) I am proud that CNM has been positioned to benefit from the current focus on outcomes, and that we are well respected and supported by our community.

    Rather than pushing back, I would like for us to continue to think about ways to anticipate the future and position the college in a way that ensures our sustainability. I know that is sometimes impossible to do, but the “noise” is pretty loud on this issue right now.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts. Keep those juices flowing!

  5. I would love to see CNM purchase or build a hotel which would be run by our Hospitality/Tourism students. Check out the Kirkwood Community College’s website,, as their students help run The Hotel at Kirkwood Center. In addition to generating revenue for CNM it would be an awesome learning opportunity for our students and help build our HTo program.

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