Blue Collar Tour returns to New Mexico
MORIARTY, N.M. — Back by popular demand, the Blue Collar Tour made a stop in New Mexico for the second year in a row.
It isn’t the comedy troupe you’re thinking of, though.
“So the Blue Collar Tour started at the Western Welding Academy, where we traveled the country talking to kids about the importance of the trades,” said Tyler Sasse, of the Western Welding Academy.
Teaching students about trades careers and what is out there.
“Since last semester, I’ve been asking my teacher Mr. Andes, I was like ‘Are they coming this year?’ and we got word right before Christmas break that they would be coming. It’s just been excitement ever since,” said William Medlin, a high school senior
Students at Moriarty High School, like Medlin, know they want a future in trades.
“I just fell in love with welding, everything about it is fun to me,” Medlin said.
The goal of the Blue Collar Tour is to encourage other students to explore a career in trades. It isn’t just welding.
“We’re welders but we want to talk about all the trades. That means the plumbers, the mechanics, the machinists, the kids really, really love it,” Sasse said. “For three generations, we’ve told our kids that college is the only path if you want to be successful. And we really want to break through that stigma, really communicate and inspire these kids to go into the trades. Work with your hands.”
Moriarty High School is one of a few schools across the state that offers a hands-on, dual-credit welding program. Their program is tied to CNM.
“By the time our kids get done with their first and second year, they are halfway done with an associate degree at CNM in welding,” said Cole Andes, the welding instructor at the school.
For Andes, he’s hoping guests spark an interest in trades for more students to come.
“I think there are a million trade jobs right now. A million jobs that are not only high paying but in demand. There are kids that can make huge amounts of money at a really young age because there is a demand for it,” Andes said.
The next stop for the Blue Collar Tour is Texas. Just last week, New Mexico lawmakers discussed expanding these programs.
In front of a joint budget hearing of the New Mexico House and Senate Education Committees, analysts proposed nearly $50 million for career and technical education programs. Lawmakers on both sides agree with that funding.