County to CNM: Environmental safety and health grads needed

By: Stefany Olivas, Staff Reporter

There is a demand for students with an associate degree in fields related to Environmental Safety and Health. They are likely to get a job, said Risk Management Director for Bernalillo County Government Joseph Crelier.

“We contacted CNM and offered to host interns to help promote the industry. A total of about ten interns were hosted,” said Crelier.

He said he was invited to a Governing Board meeting by CNM to provide input on the ES&H industry two years ago.

On August 9, 2011, Dean of the School of Math, Science and Engineering, Rich Calabro presented a resolution and stated that program review continued to show a trend of low graduates and poor job placement for degree holders, according to Governing Board meeting minutes.

A teach-out plan was to implemented and would be completed by the end of summer semester 2012, according to the minutes.

Program graduate Bill Howard is disappointed to see the removal of the ES&H pro­gram, and he said no one has made contact with him to con­firm any progress he has made since he graduated.

“It’s a really good pro­gram, they’re not pushing for it hard enough. I’m not impressed with CNM’s fol­low-up,” said Howard.

Before Howard gradu­ated in April of 2005, he had already received a job offer from Safety Matters LLC and began working the follow­ing March with a salary over $50,000 per year. He now works full time as the Primary Safety Consultant, he said.

Having a degree has ben­efited him throughout his career and he said his creden­tials helped him gain promo­tions within the company.

“There were guys there who had been with the com­pany way longer, but they were let go because they didn’t have they degree. I do,” said Howard.

He said industries are always looking for people with the degree and the job market for the field is booming in New Mexico, especially since there are many large research and testing laboratories.

Crelier currently employs one student who graduated from the program two years ago, as well as an ES&H instructor.

When hiring, his company typically looks for people with a background in safety educa­tion and college experience to provide college-level research and writing skills.

He said the combination of having background knowl­edge in the field and college experience works well for the company and it is what they really need.

“I liked the program because it was a reliable source to find people. They’ve been previously graded in col­lege. Without this pool of well-qualified candidates I could be faced with the kind of applicants I had four years ago,” said Crelier.

The board of Certified Safety Professionals is consid­ered the pinnacle of certifica­tions in the safety industry, said Crelier.

He said anyone who did earn an associate degree related to the ES&H field needs to know the lead trade group in this profession recog­nizes the title.

“That should say some­thing about the industry and the future of it. For years the minimum education was a bachelor’s degree, but now they accept associate degrees in safety health,” said Crelier.

He was confident that CNM would recognize the merit in this type of program but now feels the program did not have time to grow, he said.

“What about private industries and all the large independent contractors? Did they even know this pro­gram existed, and would they be interested in hosting an intern?” said Crelier.

He said if students are sure they want to pursue an ES&H career, they could ulti­mately go somewhere else, but that would mean losing some­one from the local economy.

“A lot of people stumble upon this and discover it’s what they want to do, but that option to discover it is gone,” said Crelier.

He said he is disappointed the program is being removed and hopes to see it return even­tually, but understands it is not very popular with students.

“People usually don’t intend to go to a community college with the purpose of getting an ES&H a degree,” said Crelier.

According to the Governing Board minutes, Calabro stated certificates in various specialty areas of the degree had been devel­oped and that core courses would continue to be offered through the Workforce Training Center.

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