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ENMU-Ruidoso receives Fire Damage Recovery Grant

Photo of construction; wood; blueprintsENMU-Ruidoso Received Workforce Development Grant for Fire Damage Recovery through Construction Trades

Oct. 31, 2022

RUIDOSO N.M.– ENMU-Ruidoso Branch Community College recently received a $63,000 New Mexico Higher Education Department (NMHED) Workforce Development grant for fire damage recovery through construction trades.

Over 200 structures including residences and commercial businesses burned during the McBride Fire in April in Ruidoso. Workers were displaced due to businesses being damaged beyond immediate repair. Others were displaced by their homes being consumed by the fire. Many employers were struggling to find reliable, skilled workers before this event, but the need was expanded, and the supply of skilled workers has not.

The number of Construction and Specialty Trade Contractors was expected to rise by nearly 10% between 2014-2024 across the state. The need to rebuild and, especially, to construct affordable housing for the workforce in Lincoln County is greater than anticipated due to the destruction of the fire. A Labor Market Index specific to the region conducted in 2020 identified Construction as a top 5 industry by employment numbers and in the top 6 industries with largest projected growth. The industry is a targeted area due to the Labor Market Index researcher’s observation, “The skilled construction trades offer some of the region’s most in-demand careers, with great earning potential and the prospect of a high-quality career pathway without the burden of large student debt loads. In the region, construction often slows down during the winter months. Funding for this program can upskill workers especially during those months.

“The NMHED grant will provide funding toward the construction trades program,” shares ENMU-Ruidoso director of career and technical education, John Rucker. He touted the benefits of the funding at the same time as he said, “This funding will not only benefit the students enrolled in the program, but the community as a whole. The need for local housing is at an all-time high as is the need for people to trained in skilled trades. This funding is a quick shot in the arm to benefit both and will hopefully be a stepping stone to stronger trades training pathways for our local students.

These funds will be used to support existing activities by accelerating the training options from ENMU-Ruidoso. A certificate in Building Trades aligned to National Center for Construction Education and Research’s (NCCER) Core Introduction to Basic Construction Skills for a few semesters and anticipate enhancing the offering by adding NCCER Level 1 Certifications in the future. The funds will be used to accelerate the timeline for workers seeking that Core certificate so they can be as effective as possible on the first day on the jobsite. Extra trainings will be contracted to provide for this accelerated need and students’ needs will be funded including tuition, course fees, textbooks, materials, and other support. Finally, instructors and contractors have identified supplies to get these students exceptional, controlled training using industrial trainers, materials, and tools. Two courses for electrician apprentices are scheduled for the spring semester on Monday and Wednesday evenings starting January 2023. Rucker seeks to find instructors for HVAC and plumbing to begin in January as well.

The funds will support administration of the grant while the NM Workforce Connection team works to provide job connections and training, and organizing job openings with employers to upskill displaced workers.

For more information about how to get started in the construction trades program contact the Director of Career and Technical Education John Rucker by phone at (575) 315-1137 or email at John.Rucker@enmu.edu.