By U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
August 1, 2017

New Mexico has long been at the center of technology innovation. Research and development at our national laboratories, universities and military installations has led to major breakthroughs in computing, energy, health care and national security.

The technology industry is a driving force in creating jobs and expanding economic growth. In 2016 alone, the technology sector contributed more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, employed more than 7 million workers and added more than 100,000 new jobs. Almost 50,000 New Mexicans work in the tech sector at both our federal research labs and in the private sector at innovative information technology, manufacturing and engineering companies. The average tech industry wage in New Mexico is $85,200 a year, which is double the average state wage.

Despite these impressive numbers, tech employers often say they can't find candidates with the right skills to grow their businesses. In the fourth quarter, there were more than 2,000 tech occupation job openings in New Mexico. Additionally, Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratories estimate they will need to fill over 5,000 vacancies in the next five years. Equipping our students and workers with the skills they need to fill those high-paying 21st-century jobs is essential if we want to build a vibrant economic future in New Mexico.

Post-secondary education is increasingly important for success in the modern economy. However, not every tech career requires a four-year degree - and that includes numerous positions at our national labs. For many career paths, complementing classroom training with practical on-the-job experiences is the most effective and efficient way for workers to develop the skills necessary to thrive.

Apprenticeships are a proven method to develop workers, but America lags far behind peer countries implementing them. That's why I introduced the bipartisan Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in Tech) Act with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) to encourage educators and businesses to start apprenticeship programs for the tech sector. This will connect more American workers to a growing sector where jobs are opening up every day.

Under the CHANCE in Tech Act, public-private partnerships would serve as intermediaries between employers participating in registered apprenticeship programs, industry and training partners, and government entities like state agencies and community colleges. Each intermediary would assess and train potential apprentices, lessening the regulatory burden on participating employers by taking on the responsibility of tracking success.

Community colleges have an important role to play in this effort because they understand the needs of local employers and can design programs and courses that are responsive to employers' current and future needs. The CHANCE in Tech Act was inspired by the New Mexico Information Technology Apprenticeship Program (NMITAP) at Central New Mexico Community College, which is using federal funding from the U.S. Department of Labor and partnerships with local technology businesses to build an information technology pipeline in Albuquerque.

Graduates of NMITAP learn new computer coding skills and earn industry-recognized credentials. They put those skills to use at local technology companies that provide work experience through apprenticeships. Jesse Grider, a New Mexico National Guard member who is enrolled in the program, said, "Before the apprenticeship program, I had a little real world experience." After his apprenticeship at local health technology company UnityBPO, Grider will have the skills and work experience for a long-term career.

For our state to remain competitive in the future economy, we need to recognize that learning and skill development for each New Mexican must continue over a lifetime. Investing in our workforce starts well before college or even high school. This is why access to universal pre-K is so important and why I am a strong advocate of the two-generation approach to support programs that provide opportunities for and meet the needs of parents and their children together.

We need our students and workers to be able to build their careers and start their families here in New Mexico. We have enormous potential to create jobs and major new industries if we can prepare our students and retrain our labor force for a lucrative high-tech job market. This is America's future, and one where New Mexico can shine - but only if we make the right choices today.

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

For those of my subscribers who may be in the Eurozone, the Beat has updated its Privacy Policy and its Terms of Service to comply with GDPR.

For those of you who don't have a clue what GDPR is, I didn't either until a few days ago. It stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and it unifies data privacy requirements across all members of the Eurozone. 

Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat redership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

The Grant County Beat endeavors to post to the Elections page, under News, at the least, notices of candidates for Grant County races. Some candidates for statewide races have also sent their notices. 

The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Note: This is another component that is in progress of going to a different software to make it easier for you to use and find classifieds that interest you. Check Out Classifieds. And look at Sponsors to see who is helping the Beat.

It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Note that if an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

When you click on the blue and orange button on the upper left side of most pages, you will find out how you can help the Beat defray its expenses, which, with increased readership, continue to grow. You will arrive at a page that gives you options of how you can Help the Beat. All help is greatly appreciated and keeps the news you want and need coming into your browser.

Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com