Labor chief visits Clovis today

By Jean Verlich: CNJ news editor

New Mexico Labor Secretary Betty Sparrow Doris is in Clovis today as part of a two-day visit to eastern New Mexico to lay groundwork for a more integrated approach in meeting the state’s employment needs.

Doris met Tuesday in Portales with members of the Eastern Area Workforce Development Board. She meets this morning with local Labor Department staff and members of the Eastern Plains Council of Governments, which is the administrative entity for the workforce board.

On July 1, the Labor Department and state workforce development office will merge into the Workforce Solutions Department. The new department was created through recently enacted legislation to increase the effectiveness of the public workforce system in working with business, Doris said.

Workforce training programs and labor-exchange services have traditionally been separate, the labor secretary explained.

“The direction is to be integrated (in a way) that responds to the needs of job seekers by responding first to the needs of business,” she said.

She said she wants to prepare New Mexico’s workforce to be better able to take advantage of opportunities in a knowledge-driven economy.

“We want to be value-added … in preparing New Mexicans for jobs,” she said.

Doris talks this afternoon at the Rural Economic Development Forum at the Clovis Civic Center about workforce issues in New Mexico and how they relate to economic development.

She said she plans to visit the northern, central and southwest regions of the state in the coming weeks.