by Mónica F. Torres
Published February 21, 2021
When people think about “going to college” they often think about admissions, advising, financial aid, academic degrees, extracurricular activities — all critical parts of the college experience. But community colleges have long had a commitment to a broader range of educational opportunities for citizens in their communities. If you were to walk through the doors of DACC’s Espina campus or its Workforce Center, you would see what I mean.
The Espina campus, on the west edge of New Mexico State University, is just one location in Doña Ana County where DACC’s Centers for Education and Career Development (CECD) offer a variety of services. You might see a classroom of adults from a diverse range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds developing their skills in English. You might observe a tutor assisting someone preparing for the math portion of a high school equivalency exam.
Historically called “adult education,” these centers focus on working with adults in ways that acknowledge and capitalize not simply on their desire to learn but on the knowledge, skills, and experiences they already have and bring with them. The Centers for Education and Career Development work with these students to identify their goals, assess their skills, and make a plan. All services are free.
The DACC Workforce Center, located right in the middle of Las Cruces (east of Lynn Middle School and south of Best Buy), houses other opportunities for citizens in the county.
Enter the center’s front door. On your right, you’ll find the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDC, part of a larger state and national network, provides one-on-one, confidential consultations for people looking to start, sustain, and grow a business. This means business owners will find support at the SBDC from start up through succession planning and any bumps along the way.
In the last year alone, a particularly trying one, the SBDC worked with 280 businesses to navigate the challenges of the pandemic. Among those, the SBDC helped create or save 926 jobs as well as assist with the startup of 10 businesses. SBDC advisors know just how important these businesses are to our community and our economy — from retail to restaurants, from childcare to construction, from agriculture to manufacturing.
The SBDC provides services in both English and Spanish and at no cost to clients.
Step just across the hall from the SBDC, and you’ll find Workforce Development and Career Readiness (WDCR), a unit that provides links from the college to the workforce.
“Lifelong learning” is the principle that drives WDCR’s activity. The 21st century workforce, with rapidly emerging technology and business practices in almost every industry, push employers and employees in our community to “upskill” and “reskill” to remain competitive in the marketplace. DACC’s Workforce Development and Career Readiness unit offers short-term noncredit training for individuals and customizes training for business and industry to assist their employees in navigating the dynamic nature of the workforce.
WDCR staff also help new and prospective students explore career options and education pathways. They assist people in analyzing their skills and gaps to determine what training they may need to reach their career goals. And when students have completed their programs, staff help graduates launch from college to career by ensuring that they can effectively communicate their skills and knowledge in résumés and in job interviews.
Community members come to the college with a broad range of experiences, knowledge, and skills, with many needs and interests. We endeavor to offer multiple on ramps to learning in support of our workforce and our community. The instruction and services I describe here illustrate some of our efforts.
Monica Torres is president of Doña Ana Community College.
To learn more, visit https://dacc.nmsu.edu/.
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