Workforce Challenges In Santa Teresa

Aug 12, 2013

In Santa Teresa, there is constant construction going on to develop infrastructure to keep up with businesses that are arriving and expanding in the region.

With new business, arrives new job opportunities for Southern New Mexico. However, companies are finding out that there are challenges in finding the right work force to fill available positions.

Jerry Pacheco, Vice-President of The Border Industrial Association, says that one problem is education.

According to Pacheco thirty-seven percent of people in the state do not even have a high school diploma.

“Take thirty-seven percent of that workforce out of your labor pool, because most Fortune 500 Companies will not hire someone unless they have a high school degree,” says Pacheco.

There are other problems facing the potential economic opportunities in this region.
Employers are having a hard time finding entry-level employees with appropriate soft skills.

Showing up on time for work, passing a drug test, and a having reliable transportation source seems to be a problem for many entry-level employees in Santa Teresa.

Ed Camden, President of Southwest Steel, Inc. is very familiar with this problem. He faces it everyday.

Business is going well for Southwest Steel, and they are expanding to meet demands. However, that expansion is going to require new entry-level employees.  

“Our real challenge is getting through that first ninety days. Finding a candidate who can pass a math test, can pass a drug test, and who can pass a follow-up drug test after ninety days to make sure they’re still clean, and who will show up for work everyday. Once we get through that first ninety days we almost have no turnover rate, but it’s getting through that first ninety days that’s the difficult part,” says Camden.

To solve issues like this many employers try to offer more professional development training for their employees.

Vickie Galindo, Director of Community Education, and interim-director of Customized training at the Workforce Center of Dona Ana County Community College says that over the past four years her department has heard more from businesses across the Dona Ana County about the need for more employees with soft skills.

“That is something that we do address. We really incorporate that into all of the classes that we teach. The very basic things, like answering the telephone, how to introduce yourself, being courteous to customers, following through,” says Galindo.

Another way that the workforce center is trying to improve the soft skill set of employees in this area for the future is to reach out to local high schools to offer classes that can focus on building soft skills.

Businesses in Santa Teresa are looking to offer internships for High School students in local high schools to potentially reduce the challenge of having a high turnover rate among entry-level employees.