Career counseling at UNM–Taos is on hiatus and won’t reopen until spring due to a shakeup in personnel, but the school's leadership is 100 percent confident that its post-graduation employment rate won't suffer.
While some newly-graduated professionals are finding competitive job markets that are flooded with more applicants than there are openings, workers in two fields that UNM–Taos specializes in won't have difficulty finding a job almost anywhere.
"CDL [commercial truck-driving] and Nursing have 100-percent job placement rates," said UNM–Taos Chancellor Mary Gutierrez.
According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, home health and personal care aides is currently the occupation with the most job openings in New Mexico, with a projected growth of 35 percent. "That's a massively-positive outlook for UNM–Taos students in the school's nursing program," Gutierrez said.
Workforce Solutions also lists assistant nurses as the seventh-fastest growing occupation in the state — no surprise considering New Mexico's rapidly aging population of baby boomers — and graduates who want to stay and work in Taos should have plenty of options.
According to the Workforce Solutions, Taos County has 212 healthcare-related establishments with an average of 1,872 employees. The average weekly pay for these occupations is $868. Additional reports say New Mexico has an employment growth rate of 2.9 percent, the sixth-highest in the southwest region.
Effectively a "community college," Gutierrez noted that UNM–Taos offers 2-year associate degrees and 4-year bachelor’s degrees. The nursing program might be one of their most well-known, but the college offers a wide variety of majors and concentrations, like EMT, film and early childhood development. According to Gutierrez, “these programs are responsive to workforce demands and ensure that students meet credentialing and licensing for their field, so they are employable upon graduation.”
“While many of our programs are tailored to prepare students directly for the workforce, the balance of our programs are intended to prepare students to complete bachelor's degrees at 4-year institutions,” Gutierrez continued. “For example, students in our natural resource management program are likely to transfer to New Mexico Highlands University, while many others continue at UNM” in Albuquerque.
UNM–Taos prides itself on its approach to employment and career development, according to Gutierrez, who said the university offers attainable, career-ready associate degrees that prepare and qualify students for entry-level positions. And students also have the option to return to school and work toward a full bachelor’s degree. The school's recruitment methods reflect the university's career-minded mission as well.
"Rather than leading with, 'What do you want to major in?' we lead with 'What do you want to do?'" she said. "Our fields of study are sorted by similar work/career interests, and our resources are devoted to figuring out careers early on."
UNM–Taos is located on 1157 CR 110 in Ranchos de Taos. For more information, visit taos.unm.edu.