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Posted: March 19, 2024

More Than 1,000 Students Attend APS Skilled Trades Fair

Among the attractions was the Be Pro Be Proud Mobile Workshop, which gave students the opportunity to experience various trades through virtual reality simulations.

Students at the trades career fair.

Students at the trades career fair.

George Ortiz, an assistant project manager with Bradbury Stamm Construction, knows that jobs in the skilled trades come in all shapes and sizes.

Some require an apprenticeship. Others require certificates. And some require bachelor’s degrees. Ortiz, for instance, has a bachelor’s in civil engineering from New Mexico State University.

On Monday, he and colleague Sacha Romero, with the company’s community relations office, spent their day talking to students about the many jobs available in the skilled trades as part of the second annual High School Grades 2 Skilled Trades career fair at the Berna Facio Professional Development Complex.

More than 1,000 students from Albuquerque Public Schools and neighboring districts explored careers in the skilled trades at the event, which was put on by the APS Apprenticeship Council. Bradbury Stamm, a general contracting firm that has built everything from schools and government buildings to just about everything else, was one of about 42 companies and other vendors that took part in the fair.

Ortiz said his goal was to get students involved and informed about the many opportunities out there. Many of those options don’t require the traditional college path. Better yet, the skilled trades offer job security and the chance to make a decent living, they said.

Romero said some students were surprised at the variety of jobs out there.

“It’s not just hammer and nails,” she said.

Among the students attending the career fair were Sandia High School junior Anjali Harville and La Cueva High senior Ava Weinberg, who are both student members of the APS Education Foundation Board. The career fair started last year as an initiative by the foundation’s student board members to provide their peers the same opportunity to experience career fairs as they do college fairs.

Harville said the fair is “extremely important.” She noted that there used to be a stigma with the trades, but that stigma has faded as students began to realize the potential in those fields.

“There are so many possibilities,” Weinberg said. “It’s important for students to know there are other options besides college.”

Monday’s event offered students the opportunity to check out heavy equipment, like a massive turquoise apparatus used to pour concrete, in addition to a Bobcat and a mini-excavator. Another big attraction was the state Department of Workforce Solutions’ Be Pro Be Proud Mobile Workshop, which gave students the opportunity to experience skilled trades through virtual reality simulations.

“I love this event,” said Janel Sanchez, state director of SkillsUSA New Mexico, a workforce development organization for students.