Skilled 4 Work: CNM breaks ground on state-of-the-art trades facility

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The need is greater than ever for skilled trade workers and CNM plans to teach and train the next generation at a new 61,000-square-foot facility on its main campus.

College officials and project contributors broke ground on the $58.7 million facility Thursday morning that will house labs and classrooms for instruction on carpentry, heating and cooling, plumbing, welding and more.

“We’re here to expand the trades building, which I’m super excited about because it’s where I got my start,” said Rita Johnson, an electrician with McDade-Woodcock.

Johnson was tasked with moving power around and managing asbestos ahead of the ground-breaking — a full-circle moment for the CNM alum. She said she is honored to apply what she once learned from the college to work on the building that will soon be used by the next generation of skilled trade workers.

“I’m at the top of my career,” Johnson said. “I make excellent money. As a single mom, getting into the trades changed my kid’s life. It made it possible to be a single mom. So, hopefully, it’ll just help other people.”

When the expansion on CNM’s main campus is complete, Johnson said she hopes to take the next step in her career and become a teacher, but that will not happen until at least August 2025 when the new building is projected to open.

Construction has only just begun on the facility that will replace three of the oldest buildings on CNM’s campus and offer six to 10 skilled trade programs for students ranging from high school age to adults hoping to start another career.

“We are currently on a site that is over 13 acres,” explained CNM President Tracy Hartzler. “The skilled trades facility will take up about five of those acres, and then we have room to grow our skilled trades program parking and some other services that we’ll need for the campus.”

Both Hartzler and Johnson said the program’s growth is essential to economic growth.

“I see myself being busy for like the next 15 years, just meeting technology demands and the power demands to meet that,” Johnson said. “So, it’s a good time to be an electrician. I think all the trades are important.”

“We need plumbers, we need welders, we need it all,” she added.

Click here to read more about plans for the facility and the current demand for trade workers.