A new partnership between the Laboratory, schools in the region, and the NM Building and Construction Trades Council (NMBCTC) is helping create a pipeline in Northern New Mexico to fill in-demand positions like this at LANL and in the wider community.
The program prepares high school students for craft trades using a nationally-recognized Multi Core Craft Curriculum (MC3) developed by North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU).
The pilot has seen the program offered at Taos and Questa school districts, with Pecos Independent School joining in fall of 2021 and ECO High School in Santa Fe in the spring of 2022. After completing the curriculum and successfully graduating high school, students can directly enter into an apprenticeship in a participating union (for example, UA Local Union No. 412 Plumbers and Pipefitters which has been working with the Laboratory on the program).
"This is a great path to post-secondary education opportunities that ultimately lead to good-paying jobs for people from Northern New Mexico," says Rebecca Estrada, higher education and workforce development specialist at the Laboratory, who has been working on the partnership. "The model of collaboration between schools, unions and employers works well for everyone - particularly students for whom a four-year degree program might not be a good fit but are looking for rewarding careers."
Sara Martinez, school counselor and district testing coordinator at Questa Independent Schools welcomes the collaboration.
"We are excited to start building several career technical education pathways in the trades for our students," she says. "We want to provide students with hands-on learning in these courses that will prepare them to go straight into apprenticeship programs after high school. Our program will give students a huge advantage in the building trades field."
“The direct entry into a union apprenticeship program of their choice allows students to continue learning while they earn a paycheck and also have benefits like healthcare, pension, and 401k,” says Art Sparks, union representative for UA Local Union No. 412. “This is not just a job but a career with a lot of opportunities.”
Providing an introduction to the construction industry
The MC3 program covers core construction industry topics and introductions to specific trades, and is taught by teachers at the schools. NMBCTC provides licensing fees for the curriculum, and teacher training is provided free of charge by the National Association of Building Trades Unions in partnership with NMBCTC.
The Laboratory facilitates connections between schools and NMBCTC, and Laboratory operator Triad, LLC, also supported some initial investments and supplements to teacher pay.
Although the pandemic has affected student access to the pilot, 20 students have participated so far, and with more schools getting on board, the future looks good for the program, and for the career prospects of those that complete it.