Workforce Borderplex shares job opportunities for recent UTEP grads – El Paso Times

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Daniel Carrera, a recent UTEP graduate, didn’t need to leave his hometown to find job opportunities. 

After leaving El Paso for five years to receive his bachelor’s in civil engineering from Texas Tech University, Carrera knew he wanted to come back to El Paso. 

He landed a job as an associate and senior engineer for Walter P. Moore and now he’s encouraging others to find opportunities in the Sun City. According to Bianca Cervantes, Workforce Solution Borderplex communications director, finding a career shouldn’t be too difficult. 

After the pandemic, job openings in the El Paso region have grown, leaving recent UTEP graduates with more career choices than before, Cervantes said, 

There are about 18,000 job postings in the region, from entry level to advanced skills and 3,500 job openings for people with degrees ranging from associates to master’s degrees, Cervantes said. 

Careers in health care, information technology and advanced manufacturing are trending in the region.

Projected growth in trending careers

Fifteen medical careers are projected to grow more than 10% in the next 10 years, around the same growth is expected with five occupations in manufacturing and six information technology careers. 

Entry-level hourly wages in the medical field range from $11.80 to $27.77, manufacturing is $10.92 to $18.12 and information technology is $12.84 to $29.02. 

“So I would say that it’s robust (career opportunities), there’s some healthy options for working still,” Cervantes said. 

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Recent graduates should find opportunities to get experience, whether it’s internships, volunteering, trying freelancer sites, attending events or conferences that might involve networking, and offering themselves pro-bono, Cervantes said. 

As of April 2022, the unemployment rate was at 4.2%, which is the closest the rate has been back to pre-pandemic numbers that were at 3% unemployed, Cervantes said. 

Pandemic brings new attention to pay 

The pandemic brought a reflective period for employees in the workforce. 

Those who were making $7.25 an hour and receiving money from unemployment benefits during the pandemic were able to see what it was like to live without struggling financially, Cervantes said.  

“People have realized that we’re in a flawed business system,” Cervantes said. “The system that worked for as long as it’s worked, that was taking advantage of underpaying workers is no longer working anymore.” 

When the pandemic came to a slowdown, more people became interested in jobs that weren’t focused in the retail, food industries where they are paid minimum wage, Cervantes said. 

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During the pandemic, more people started to take advantage of online courses to better their resumes for higher-paying jobs. This created a shift in those working minimum wage jobs to rethink how they wanted to be treated at work, Cervantes said. 

The business started to create change in its culture due to lack of employees, and they started offering sign-on bonuses, free child services programs, remote work, and flexible schedules, she said. 

UTEP alum encourages students to grow in El Paso

Cervantes believes ambassadors of the community can help keep the city growing. 

Carrera who got his master’s degree from UTEP and was awarded 2022 Texas Young Engineer of the Year by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, said it’s a great opportunity for recent grads to stay in El Paso. 

“I think it’s a great place to stay,” Carrera said. “Salaries are becoming more competitive versus places like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin. The big plus is that the cost of living is very cheap here versus paying for a $2,000 apartment in Austin.”

Carrera encourages recent grads to not become discouraged if they are having a hard time finding a job and to become involved in the field they are pursuing. 

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He said networking with other people in the field and learning more about the career path on your own are great ways to get your name out there. 

“Sometimes we expect people to come to us, or sometimes we expect the job or the answers to come to us. Carrera said. “But sometimes it’s really us having to go out there and get them ourselves, we need to plan some effort.” 

If a job opportunity is not available in a certain career field for UTEP grads in El Paso there are still options to work in that field remotely, Cervantes said. 

Resources available for graduates  

Betsy Castro, UTEP Career Center director, said first-generation graduates should look to places like the career center and other universities around the state to help them find a job. 

“You’ll be surprised that there’s a lot of individuals willing to help,” Castro said. “But it does require that the person at least raise their hand and say, ‘Hey, I could use some help who can help me?'” 

UTEP career center offers undergraduate and graduate students resume building, mock interviews, job search services, classes in LinkedIn learning, and other career services, Castro said

UTEP alumni are welcome to use the career center free of charge, Castro said. 

Companies are at a point where they are more accepting of lack of experience and graduates should use resources available to them to make themselves more marketable, Cervantes said. 

Recent grads who lack experience in their field can acquire certifications from LinkedIn Learning and Workforces Metrix Learning, an online learning program with more than 5,000 classes. They can also take advantage of a workforce apprenticeship program. 

“When it comes to work, what makes you feel good? What’s rewarding?” Cervantes said. “As long as you can test different things until you reach that point of goodness feeling. You’re going to find what you need to be doing, especially in El Paso.”