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Poco Windy #11 “All the Gold in California”: New Mexico’s CTE Future

“All the gold in California is in a bank in Beverly Hills in somebody else’s name. It don’t matter where you’ve played before, California’s a brand-new game,” sang Country Music’s Gatlin Brothers from Abilene, Texas, one of many windy New Mexico neighbors to the east, near the heart of Texas wind energy country.

More recently, several economic development studies done over the past few years examining Lincoln County have confirmed a ‘new game’ - its continuing population decline since 2010. Similar to most rural areas across New Mexico. By the way, not so in nearby neighbors, the Mescalero Apache Nation. How do we turn the rural population decline, the departure of young people, and the exodus of young families around?

two students with construction gear on

Over the past twenty years, California almost by itself has largely redefined the West’s brand-new economic game and has flourished, while New Mexico has struggled. California’s growth now, in spite of serious wildland fires and power grid shutdowns, has fueled an ever-growing market for NM energy, primarily “electricity with strings” - of the sustainable rather than coal-fired kind. With the nation’s second-best solar and top-twelve best wind resources (NMENRD, 2020), New Mexico is well-positioned for economic growth of the sustainable energy type, supporting new middle and high skill jobs. Jobs for young people and mid-career adults. Many rural ones. CTE can and should play a role, a critical one. How?

The new CTE role is to deliver that skill training under new models, industry partnerships, a revised 2+2 model of high school, dual CTE credit with community colleges through regional education cooperatives. A new message to kids and parents, grandparents, foster parents. New counseling and advisement. Better high school completion rates. Resulting in high wage, rural  jobs in the energy industry. In the wind energy industry in central New Mexico.

climbing and construction gear

Look at both ends of the equation this way. The energy production/transport jobs are here in New Mexico. Environmental monitoring ones too. In construction, operations and maintenance, repowering, electrical engineering, wildlife biology, meteorology, and cybersecurity analysts in energy industry operations control centers. Future operations control centers that we could  have in Mescalero, Ruidoso Downs, or Ruidoso if high speed, fiber optic broadband through NM companies such as MATI, TCI, and PVT is available. The jobs are here, in rural New Mexico.

The point of sale, on the other hand, is mostly in California. So, much of the gold’s in California. So if you’re dreaming about ‘New Mexico’, it don’t matter at all where you’ve played before, New Mexico’s a brand-new game. Through Career-Technical Education (CTE).

This is the home of Region IX CTE. Thanks for dropping by.

By Dr. James Miller