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Mayor Berry Introduces 'Got Skills ABQ' Strategy

City of Albuquerque Innovation Team Spearheading Initiatives that Will Help Connect Youth Ages 16-24 to Skills-Building and Career Exploration Opportunities.

March 22, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry introduced Got Skills ABQ, robust set of initiatives that will help connect youth ages 16-24 in Albuquerque with skills-building and career exploration opportunities. This plan is part of larger efforts to increase economic opportunity for Albuquerque residents.  Got Skills ABQ is being spearheaded by the City’s Innovation Team (i-team), funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The initiatives being announced today are the result of the i-team’s work with staff to engage partners, employers, and youth in the community to investigate barriers that are preventing young people from developing key skills, exploring careers, and becoming self-sufficient.

Got Skills ABQ is a long-term economic development strategy to enhance the talent pool in Albuquerque and improve residents’ quality of life,” said Mayor Berry. “Albuquerque’s youth are a key segment of our population, and we are working to equip them with the tools they need to succeed in the workplace.”

The goal of Got Skills ABQ is to reduce unemployment and underemployment for youth ages 16-24 in Albuquerque and increase the number and types of career exploration opportunities. By developing initiatives with their input, Got Skills ABQ will help address challenges many young people are experiencing when it comes to finding, getting, and keeping a job.  The first set of initiatives that begin launching this Spring include:

  • A digital skills certification program to demonstrate the skills and competencies rarely found on a resume that young people have and employers are seeking
  • “Got Skills” media days at local high schools modeled on NCAA signing days, where students announce new jobs and employers celebrate new hires
  • Accelerated project-related training for youth who accept summer jobs with the City of Albuquerque
  • Quarterly career experience and mentorship opportunities with various City departments
  • Work-study programs for youth interested in working in City government

In addition to rolling out new initiatives, the City of Albuquerque is investigating ways to leverage current programs, such as adding dual-credit curriculum to its Running Start for Careers program and increasing the number of available VISTA and AmeriCorps summer service slots.

The City is collaborating with other government agencies, local nonprofits, and employers on various initiatives to strengthen connections between youth and employment opportunities.

While preparing youth for work and connecting them with jobs, the Got Skills ABQ strategy includes building a strong network of private employers who facilitate career exploration opportunities, participate in skills-building initiatives and create new positions for youth.

Nusenda Credit Union, a partner in the Got Skills ABQ strategy, views hiring youth as an asset-building strategy.  “Nusenda Credit Union has benefitted greatly from engaged, educated youth,” said Terry Laudick, president and CEO. “Career enrichment programs are a catalyst for improving the future of both our young adults and our state.”

The i-team is seeking several more partnerships with Albuquerque-area employers. To become a partner or to find out how your company can participate in creating career exploration and job opportunities for youth, contact i-team Co-Director Jacob Sanchez at [email protected].

Within the past six months, the i-team conducted extensive research with young people at area high schools, employers, and City staff. The research found:

  • Youth want to save money for college, contribute to society, feel accomplished, and be perceived as responsible and capable
  • Youth are facing real and perceived obstacles to employment, including such as access to employers, opportunities for career exploration 
  • There is a disconnect between the language employers use in job postings and on job applications and the language youth use to search for jobs
  • Employers feel young people lack “soft skills” such as verbal and written communication, critical thinking, teamwork, dependability, and interpersonal skills
  • Many employers view hiring young people as ”community service,” not asset building  

The research yielded data that the City is using to generate new ideas, roll out new initiatives, and track and report results. The City staff, students and employers who participated in the research are also participating in the development of initiatives, helping the i-team prototype and test new programs. Their feedback is guiding the finalization of initiatives. 


For more information about the City of Albuquerque’s Innovation Team, please follow @ABQiteam on Twitter (

For more information about Bloomberg Philanthropies, visit

About the Albuquerque Innovation Team

The City of Albuquerque is one of nearly 20 cities around the world participating in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program. The program aims to improve the capacity of City government to effectively design and implement new approaches that improve citizens’ lives. Innovation teams function as in-house innovation consultants, moving from one mayoral priority to the next. For more information on the City of Albuquerque’s Innovation Team, please follow @ABQiteam on Twitter.