Two New Mexico community colleges were recently awarded nearly $2.5 million to train workers, under a federal training grant program. The schools competed successfully against 341 other national programs for the grant funds, awarded by the U. S. Department of Labor.
Dona Ana Community College in Las Cruces was awarded a highly coveted grant to train workers for the healthcare industry, in the amount of $1,988,074.
The second New Mexico grant went to New Mexico State University at Carlsbad. The funds will be used to train employees in the construction industry.
Community colleges across the nation recently received $125 million in awards under the President’s Community Based Job Training Grants Initiative.
Over 341 applications were filed in a competition announced in August, 2007. The awards were given to the top 69 competitors to help community colleges and training facilities provide assistance for workers seeking jobs in high-growth industries.
U.S Department of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao made the following comment, “Community colleges are in a unique position to prepare local workers for careers in high-growth industries. The $125 million awarded today will expand enrollment in education and training programs and provide more workers with the skills they need to succeed.”
Community colleges provide a local boost for training in areas where certain industries are seeking certain skill sets. The Community-Based Job Training Grants provide training for skilled workers to gain good jobs with career advancement. For example, several nuclear power plants in New Mexico need more skilled employees. A grant to train workers in the energy field could be awarded to a community college located near the plants.
The Community-Based Job Training Grants program was established in 2005, awarding 72 grants. In 2006, the second round of grants totaled 70. The purpose of these grants is to boost the community colleges’ role in marketing the full potential of the U. S. workforce.
Over the past few years, several factors have influenced the condition of the American workforce, including technology and innovation, aging of the workforce and globalization.
As a result, certain industries are having trouble finding trained workers. Health care, construction, biotechnology and energy are examples of a few nationwide industries seeking skilled employees. Several regional employers require skilled workers, too, such as the movie industry in Culver City, California.
The U. S. Department of Labor has formed strong relationships with business and industry. These relationships are valued by the Labor Department, because officials believe these connections provide support for regional economies by putting Americans to work.
To help put Americans to work the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative encourages these relationships and adds partnerships with educators as well. As part of that partnership, the Community Based Job Training Grants assist employers in finding trained employees.
The Community Based Job Training Grants are geared to improve the training capability of community colleges in areas that need workers. Funds are awarded to buy new training equipment, to hire qualified teachers and to organize on-the-job training experiences. These colleges collaborate with the local industry, too, to develop a training program for new and existing workers. The goal is to provide employees with good paying jobs with career advancement.
The industries that participate in the Workforce Investment System benefit in several ways. Since the local college is training workers with skills specific to that industry, the employer spends less on recruiting. The screening and referral process aid the employer as well, because the school’s curriculum is geared to his or her needs. As a result, employees stay with the company longer and the company gets qualified workers that increase quality and competitiveness in the market place.
In addition, the Workforce Investment System offers several incentives within the programs, such as government training assistance and tax credits.
An announcement made recently by the US Department of Labor (DOL) is good news for unemployed workers in some parts of the state. The announcement brings news of a new competition for federal grants awarded for job training and skill upgrades to New Mexico workers.
A possible New Mexico unemployment grant would be part of a program known as WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative). WIRED is part of the Employment and Training Administration overseen by the DOL. Grants recently awarded to New Mexico and other regions across the country are the second wave in a series of job training initiatives.
When announcing this second wave of WIRED grants, DOL Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said, “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.” The grant’s goal is to train New Mexico workers for jobs that pay high wages and require a high level of job skills, thereby boosting regional economies.
The New Mexico unemployment grant comes as a result of efforts made by the governor. WIRED grants are based on competitive information supplied by state governors who submit proposals to the DOL identifying economic need and supportive funding from state, regional, and private sources. Each state is allowed to submit two proposals for grants totaling as much as $5 million each.
WIRED grants, including a potential New Mexico unemployment grant, are a collaborative effort by the state, the DOL, and 10 other federal agencies working in synergistic fashion to boost the struggling economies of needy regions across the country. Similar grants have been awarded to the Mississippi / Arkansas Delta area, northern Alabama, northern California, the Delaware Valley, and northern Indiana. So far, the WIRED initiative has distributed $260 million to 26 regions across the country.
“This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy,” adds Secretary Chao.
A new venture by the United States Department of Labor would result in a greater number of jobs for New Mexico Workers with Disabilities. Recently, an alliance has been formed between the United States office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Society of Human Resource Managers, also known as SHRM.
Till 2001, the United States Department of Labor worked to protect the rights of workers with disabilities. The dept. also strived to find them a better share of the job market. But unfortunately, the workers with disabilities have never been utilized to their optimum potential because of a number of diverse factors. The Dept. of Labor deals with a host of labor-related issues, and this was too big to be dealt with by a department already under considerable strain. Under the current administration, Elaine Chao, the US Secretary of Labor started a new agency by the name of US office of Disability Employment Policy, or ODEP. The purpose of forming the new agency was that there should be an organization with no other agenda but integration of workers with disabilities into the job market. Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, is also the head of the new federal agency.
The Society of Human Resource Managers which is also known as SHRM was founded in 1948. It is an international organization with 550 chapters in more than a hundred countries. The number of its members exceeds 200,000 individuals. The SHRM’s mission is “to serve the needs of human resource professionals by proving the most essential and comprehensive resources available.”
This newly-formed alliance between ODEP and SHRM will focus on improving the disabled workers’ access to resources, conducting research, providing cross-agency cooperation and guidance, assisting the state agencies with resources and facilitating communication between different agencies concerned with human resource. They will also focus on training, education, outreach, communication and technical assistance for workers with disabilities. Promotion of a national dialogue on the employment of persons with disabilities is also on their agenda.
The Mesalands Community College has received $2 million under a New Mexico employment grant. This college is situated in Tucumcari New Mexico and it was chosen after a competition between 429 schools. The Mesalands Community College has a proven track record of successful scholarship, especially in energy and related disciplines. This grant is meant to be spent on their healthcare education programs, so that this region can produce a better-trained workforce to become a part of America’s booming healthcare industry.
President George W. Bush announced a Community-base Job Training Initiative in his State of the Union Address in 2004. He pledged $125 million, to be distributed among 72 colleges across 34 states under this initiative. The distribution of grants started in 2005, and to date 105 awards of grants to community colleges have been made. This grant is meant to prepare a highly skilled workforce for high growth industries. The human resource currently available in the market is not at par with the industry requirements in terms of skills and in terms of the number of people available as well.
The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, Emily Stover DeRocco was reported saying “Today’s awards recall the imperative that businesses and the workforce system team up with their region’s community colleges to ensure that workers are armed with the right skills to thrive in the 21st century economy. Community colleges are closely tied to the areas they serve, and they have proven themselves adept at responding to the regional workforce demands of numerous industries.”
On the occasion of this announcement, the US Secretary for Labor, Elaine Chao said “Community colleges are vital partners in educating and preparing workers for good jobs in their local area. The $125 million these 72 community college partnerships will receive under the President’s Community-Based Job Training Initiative is going to help workers succeed in careers in health care, advanced manufacturing and other growing industries.”
The US Dept. of Labors Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, cautions all workers, hikers, bikers, rock hunters and explorers to “Stay Out — Stay Alive.” This is part of an ongoing campaign in public safety to warn people about the dangers of mine property.
With temperatures rising, New Mexico worker safety is a concern. Many times workers in professions unrelated to the mine industry end up victims of mine-related accidents. Mines are always dangerous territory, and it is restricted to those who are trained to work in those environments. To explore these areas would be to trespass, and the result could be death.
Unfortunately, it is not only these workers that are injured or lose their lives. Many times the victims of mine accidents are unsuspecting children at play. Parents are reminded to make sure that children stay away from restricted mine areas. Abandoned as well as active mines are dangerous because of hidden shafts, poorly covered holes, flooded areas, and toxic fumes. Within the past several years, an excess of 200 individuals had fatal accidents on mine property. Last year alone there were 30 deadly injuries. Victims were in their late teens to early 50s.
That is why the continuation of the “Stay Out – Stay Alive” campaign, now nine years running, is so important. According to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Richard E. Stickler, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States. Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge to “Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
Private organizations, along with federal and state agencies, ban together to make sure people are aware of the hazards. Mine safety and health professionals make public service announcements and visit schools and other children’s groups to talk to youth about the dangers. Since many people are unaware that it is possible to accidentally tread on mine property, it is essential to pay attention to these efforts.