In our community, businesses are struggling to find employees to fill a wide range of positions in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County, and Albuquerque.


Businesses throughout the region are feeling a real shortage for engineers, nurses, construction workers, project managers and technology workers, yet our state maintains the highest unemployment rate in the United States at 5.9 percent. The unemployment rate is being greatly impacted by not having people match the needs of businesses to fit existing vacancies.


Identifying a career path is the first step in developing a positive future for students, according to workforce development experts. “We find that CTE programs significantly influence the productivity and competence

of the workforce with programs that concentrate on career pathways for in-demand occupations and industries. These programs provide practical hands-on experience and education credits for future learning.” said Art Martinez, Workforce Director for Central New Mexico.


Career technical education (CTE) is one of the most impactful areas to develop in our

education system. Rio Rancho Public Schools (RRPS) is once again taking the lead with the addition of a CTE facility in Rio Rancho.


So, what is career technical education? It is the practice of teaching a specific career

skill to middle school, high school and post- secondary students. These career paths include electrical work, plumbing, welding, nursing, automotive repair, cybersecurity, technology, and culinary arts.


CTE has a proven history of preparing students for high-demand careers that have salaries of $50,000 or higher and can lead to entrepreneurship by building locally owned businesses. “RRPS wants to do what we can to help our community produce economic development opportunities and growth.” said Beth Pendergrass, RRPS Chief Communications, Strategy and Engagement Officer.


Why is RRPS prepared to invest in CTE, and why is it so crucial to education? The answer is simple: School districts with expanded CTE programs have higher graduation rates, ranging from 5-12 percent over traditional schools which results in 95 percent of CTE students graduating high school. Beth Pendergrass stated, “Rio Rancho Public Schools is dedicated to expanding CTE opportunities for students.

We want to cultivate student’s skills and provide them with the opportunities to personalize their high school experience based on their career interests.”


A student earning CTE credits maintains a more engaging learning experience. Every student learns in a different way, so students who don’t do well in traditional classrooms can reinvigorate their educational experience with CTE courses.


CTE graduates are not fully ready to start their careers right out of high school, but they have the building blocks to establish their career path and are encouraged to pursue further education. The Rio Rancho Regional

Chamber of Commerce and Rio Rancho Public Schools will be hosting a CTE introduction

for businesses that will benefit from these programs on April 7th. For more information contact the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber.


Rio Rancho Public Schools is investing in our future and creating more options for our students that will lead to strong career paths.

It will take the support our community and businesses to make CTE successful and offer these additional career opportunities.