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New $6.4 million federal grant to help create new workforce training center in northern New Mexico

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While New Mexico’s unemployment rate dropped in June, the state still has an issue with low workforce participation. That’s according to a recent legislative report. But a new $6.4 million federal grant from the American Rescue Plan may help more people access training and better paying jobs.

The funds will help create the Northern New Mexico Workforce Integration Network, a training program to create pathways into higher-paying jobs in healthcare, building and construction. It will focus on Latino and Indigenous communities, formerly incarcerated individuals and those recovering from substance use disorders.

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) says nearly every institution in the state serves minorities but they’re often underfunded.

"We know that those institutions have been left out of funding for both workforce training and for research," she said.

The new network will partner with local community colleges, unions, and employers to provide apprenticeships through traditional and mobile classrooms in order to reach more communities.

"We want them to both have higher skills and higher pay," said Leger Fernandez."That's how we grow our economy is by getting our workforce more highly trained, because then they can demand and earn the higher wages and benefits that they deserve."

At this time, the funds are focused on the northern half of the state but there are plans to expand into other areas in the future.

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