Can creative thinking save CNM’s trucking and jewelry programs?

April 15 – Central New Mexico Community College considers suspending its truck driving program because it is losing money. And while it may seem like a simple ledger-based decision, serious questions remain about whether the many benefits offered by the program have been duly considered. The CNM board should expose them and inject creative thinking before ending a popular program that offers an affordable route to well-paying jobs.

We understand that CNM must work within its budget and that all of its 181 associate degree and certificate programs are evaluated annually. A committee of representatives from each division of the college reviews the college’s mission, market demand, program economics, and alignment with academic and industry standards. This tour, 14 were recommended for sunset. But the proposal to offer two of them – truck driving and bench jewelry – possibly without a certificate at one of CNM’s Ingenuity training and workforce sites was seriously rebuffed by faculty. and the community.

Tuesday’s CNM board meeting drew approximately 200 students, graduates and faculty from both programs. Stakeholders have made it clear that they oppose any change.

We also understand that change is difficult. But, speaking in support of both programs, full-time faculty member Marissa Juárez said the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in the trucking industry will grow 6% over the next 10 years. years and that it makes no sense to cut a program that provides a crucial service in the country’s supply chain at a time when there is a national shortage of truck drivers. The bench jewelry program, she said, enriches the local artistic community and the jewelry-making industry, while creating jobs.

Feedback will be considered during a review by the NJC Planning and Finance Committees before the full Board takes action. It is important. The next board meeting will be on May 10. Congratulations to Juárez and others who helped provide ample food for thought.

Established more than 30 years ago, the still comprehensive truck driving program paves the way to a Class A commercial driver’s license and a chance to generate “more revenue than almost any other field in New Mexico.” “said instructor John Morningstar. It takes about 15 weeks and costs participants about $1,600. But Samantha Sengel, CNM’s vice president of workforce and community success, said it runs an annual shortfall of between $450,000 and $600,000.

It is revealing. The program was ‘critical’ enough to run at a loss for years. What changed ? With years of self-driving, there’s certainly no demand for those skills. As things stand, we have too few programs that can lead to such well-paying jobs. In a state that ranks among the lowest in poverty, these programs are crucial.

Meanwhile, Mathew James Shepardson, owner of Tskies Jewelry in Albuquerque, hired seven graduates from the bench jewelry program and grew his business. Sengel says the program does not have enough enrolments/graduates.

Two ideas: The new scholarship law covers tuition for certificate programs. If the CNM increases costs for participants, will the scholarship program cover this? And before state officials complain that it’s inappropriate, UNM has already raised its tuition. It seems that the fact that the scholarship program pays around $5,000 is worth giving students the means to start a high-paying career. And are companies willing to incur certain costs to get a great employee? Innovation can keep these programs alive.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned because it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than that of the editors.