According to a study by Georgetown University, 58 percent of the jobs in New Mexico in 2018 require a post-secondary degree or certificate. That means there are approximately 166,000 jobs that require a post-secondary credential, 86,000 jobs requiring a high school diploma and 39,000 jobs for individuals without a high school degree. Economists predict that higher percentages of jobs in the next 10 years will require a post-secondary credential. Attending college now is more important than ever.
At Doña Ana Community College, we are engaged in a number of initiatives to ensure our county has a prepared workforce. For many initiatives, we work with partners throughout our communities. Recently we partnered with Film Las Cruces on a film studio to train technicians to work on movies and television productions. We continue our work with our public school colleagues to offer dual credit courses to high school students. Several programs are specifically designed for businesses who require workers with industry-recognized credentials and skills.
Ensuring that Doña Ana County has a prepared workforce requires collaboration among many partners. Ngage New Mexico’s Success Partnership utilizes a collective impact model bringing partners to the table aligning their individual missions to create a holistic vision for education for the county. The Success Partnership has focused on early childhood education, supporting parents and our youngest citizens to help them get a strong start on their learning. Early childhood education is vital to help children gain the foundation necessary to prepare for DACC. Recently, Ngage reached out to the higher education sector seeking to understand college readiness to ensure all partners along the K-16 pathway have a clear picture of the “end in mind.”
Higher education is now more attainable for more people in the county. While stories appear in the media about growing student loan debt and the challenges graduates face in finding jobs, those same stories are not the norm for our graduates. Did you know that tuition and fees for one semester at DACC for Doña Ana County residents is $864?
This amount is completely covered by a full Pell grant. Over 70 percent of all first-time, full-time students attending DACC qualify for a full Pell grant which is not a loan and does not need to be paid back. In addition, DACC awards over 1,049 scholarships annually and 1,909 students received the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship which is awarded on top of federal aid and scholarships, adding to the funding a high school graduate can receive to attend college within 24 months of their high school graduation.
While college is more affordable for county residents, the need for college graduates with industry recognized certificates and two-year associate degrees is greater than ever. To fill the available jobs in Doña Ana County for the next 10 years, our community needs to encourage our citizens as early as pre-school to enroll in college. The idea of “college for all” is not idealistic, it is more realistic than ever in New Mexico.
By collaborating with the Success Partnership, DACC endeavors to make “college for all” the norm for residents, to help Doña Ana County and New Mexico be a competitor in the global economy for the jobs of the future. The Success Partnership brings together community leaders from business and industry, education, government, philanthropic organizations, faith-based organizations, and nonprofit organizations to collaborate on community issues, such as education, to ensure that when collaboration is present the collective impact is greater than the combined influence of all organizations individually. A community focused on education brings about sustained individual and economic success.
Renay Scott is president of NMSU-Doña Ana Community College. She can be reached at DACCPresident@dacc.nmsu.edu. To learn more about DACC visit http://dacc.nmsu.edu/.
SUCCESS Snapshots is a biweekly column highlighting the SUCCESS Partnership education initiative in Doña Ana Country. Read more at www.SUCCESSdac.org. For more information, or if you would like to be involved, please contact Lynda Garcia, SUCCESS Partnership Communications Coordinator, at Lynda.Garcia@uwswnm.org.