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Workforce Development for an Innovative Future
Highlighting Green, Tech and Film Careers in Northern New Mexico
Many young New Mexicans are unaware of the vast array of opportunities for meaningful, rewarding work right in their own state.
With support from the McCune Charitable Foundation, this month the first “Career Academy” is offering students from 11 schools the opportunity to explore hands-on activities and meet professionals from three innovative industries identified by StartUp Santa Fe as growing in northern New Mexico: green, tech and film.
According to the UNM Center for Sustainability, New Mexico’s clean-energy sector grew by 118 percent in 10 years, while jobs in energy efficiency grew by 184 percent and jobs in environmentally friendly production grew by 99 percent. Careers are also available in water conservation, pollution mitigation, sustainable forestry, biofuels, geothermal energy, recycling, sustainability and efficiency assessment, electric vehicles, green construction and renewable energy including solar and wind energy.
Computer and information-technology enterprises are also taking off. According to and the latest studies of labor-market data assessment, northern New Mexico had 1,541 open computing jobs and only 120 computer science graduates. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the computer systems design industry—and related services—is among the state economy’s largest and fastest sources of employment growth. The new college board exam in computer science notes that computer science is the “New Literacy,” and “whether it’s 3-D animation, engineering, music, app development, medicine, visual design, robotics or political analysis, computer science is the engine that powers the technology, productivity and innovation that drive the world. Computer science experience has become an imperative for today’s students and the workforce of tomorrow.”
As the film industry has blossomed in the state, the New Mexico Film Office—a division of the state’s Economic Development Department—was established to facilitate and promote on-location filming and film-industry jobs. The New Mexico Tourism office reported more than 205 productions since 2003, and it is estimated that the industry generated more than $1.5 billion in economic impact in just four years. Many students are surprised to learn that those who graduate in film are eligible for the state to pay half of the first 1,040 hours of their initial employment in the industry.
Looking for creative ways to connect students with career opportunities they may have never imagined possible, the Community Learning Network (CLN), a Santa Fe–based nonprofit dedicated to “building stronger communities through real-life learning,” launched the New Mexico Career Profiles project. Designed to link students with people who have successful careers in leading New Mexico industries, this collaborative takes a multifaceted approach and includes both online and offline opportunities for exploration and engagement.
Career “MeetUps” provide informal school and community events through which students can meet people engaged in viable careers. “Career Bootcamps” offer hands-on introductions to skills and regional industries, while “Career Academies” offer longer immersive experiences with more time for experiential learning and intergenerational exchange. The “Online Library” hosts a growing list of industry-related resources, including educational pathways, training opportunities, and relevant organizations, conferences and events. The “Video Bank” features a collection of short, informal interviews with New Mexico employees and employers—some conducted and edited by students, offering a personal look into the daily life and work of community members from a wide range of professions.
Local students are invited to participate in the process of creating career-profile videos, including selecting and interviewing professionals, filming and editing footage, and posting them for public access. The community is also invited to submit career profiles for possible inclusion. If you would like to submit a career-profile video interview to the New Mexico Careers Video Bank, send a short—2-to-5 minutes—edited version of an informal career interview made by smart phone or tablet to
Guiding questions to address when creating a video:
1. Who are you, and what do you do?
2. How did you get started?
3. What kinds of things do you do in a day?
4. What do you like about your work?
5. Can you show us where you work?
6. What would you tell young people about life?
Jennifer Case Nevárez is the lead educator and director of the local nonprofit Community Learning Network. A lifelong advocate of real-life learning, she also coordinates Southwest Experiential Education for visiting and local student groups and the “Love Where We Live” Youth Ambassadors program. .
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