Good for Business

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A PROTEC student gains skills in a recent fiber-optics training class.

SFCC connects students to good-paying jobs

A variety of opportunities connect SFCC students to exciting careers with regional businesses. Innovative programs in film, cutting-edge fiber optics, business and other fields not only prepare SFCC students for excellent jobs but also help place them in the workforce. In turn, area businesses, nonprofits and government entities all benefit from hiring SFCC’s skilled students and graduates. This resourceful alliance is good for business in every way.

 “We do as much as we can to get the students ready and then they hit the jobs,” said Joseph Cooke, Chair of Business and Professional Studies who also heads the Entrepreneurship Program. “Our job is to get the students ready for the workplace. This means teaching the job skills as well as critical thinking skills.”

SFCC in partnership with Santa Fe County offers Professional Readiness for Technical Careers (PROTEC) training programs to offer an abbreviated path to a successful career. The college also partners with other entities for PROTEC such as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Connections, Stagecoach Foundation, Inc. and the Santa Fe Film Office to provide focused preparatory training for entry-level employment in a various fields. The classes can be completed in a matter of weeks, and are designed for people who are unemployed, underemployed or looking to increase their hire-ability in Santa Fe County.

Kris Swedin, Dean of Continuing Education and Contract Training, who oversees PROTEC said, “There’s nothing better than helping somebody who’s unemployed get a skill so they can get a job, and especially so that they don’t have to spend two years learning a skill.”

PROTEC this year has offered free boot camps for film and television production assistants and certified fiber optic technicians. The Tech-for-Business online bootcamp focuses on résumé writing, interviewing skills, office systems and other technology. Many of the bootcamps include a paid internship program for approved students. The first Certified Fiber Optic Bootcamp Program had 38 students. Kelly Cable of New Mexico, the state’s largest cable company, met with the students to talk about employment with the company. Additional bootcamp programs are planned.

“We’re taking a look at an HVAC program as there will be a big need for people in that skill set,” Swedin said. “Also, we’ve talked to Santa Fe County about a data analytic program. In part, the program is driven by what employers need. There’s a big push for electrification, so there might be work in that area as well. With electric cars, there will be a big need for installing ways to plug in your car in your garage.”

SFCC’s Contract Training also supports regional businesses in several ways. “Contract Training is customized professional development, and for the most part we work with businesses and organizations needing to provide particular skills for their workforce,” Swedin explained. “For instance, the City of Santa Fe is working with us on various kinds of safety training that have to do with the city’s safety certifications.” In the last fiscal year, 3,500 contract training students and about 160 individual companies went through the program, Swedin said.

On the traditional academic track, SFCC students earning an Associate in Arts or Associate in Applied science degree in business administration can land great jobs with a regional independent business or a major corporation. “Big companies such as Los Alamos National Laboratory and The Peters Corporation call me regularly to check in and see if we have any students,” Cooke said. “Accounting is very specialized and it’s kind of easy to place people. Whereas business administration is a larger umbrella. We get regular calls from employers saying they’ve got a spot for a business manager.”  The college offers business students an Associate of Arts degree to transfer to pursue a four-year degree from a college or university.

The Entrepreneurship certificate program takes a different tack, preparing students to launch their own business. “A lot of exciting things are going on at Entrepreneurship, but it’s so different than a college degree because it’s really designed to set you out on your own,” Cooke said. Many students start out with the Beginning Entrepreneurship class, but “not a lot of people get the certificate because before they finish, they’ve started their own business. So, we’re moving toward more of a model where we integrate Entrepreneurship into our Business Administration degree, so that you’d be working on your business degree and creating your business plan.”

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