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El Paso unemployment rate sits above national average, while graduating students search for jobs

May marks graduation season for both high school and college students, which means many will be searching for jobs.

“One of the challenges for getting students professionally ready when they graduate is starting early,” said Louie Rodriguez, the associate vice president of student affairs at the University of Texas El Paso . “They cannot wait until their senior year, when they are getting ready to graduate to start thinking about that next step.”

El Paso’s unemployment rate sits at 4.5 percent, compared to last March when it was 4.9 percent.

The national average sits at around 4.1 percent, compared to last March, when it was 4.6 percent.

“Our students are entering a competitive workforce and competing with graduates from all across the country and we want them to make sure they feel confident and can articulate all the great skills that they have,” Rodriguez said.

ABC-7 asked students if they thought the university was setting them up for success, and many agreed. “I think they give you a lot of skills, so you can market yourself properly,” one students said, “but I don’t know if it will help you find a job right away.”

Rodriguez said it takes both parties for the student to be successful. “They can’t just come to class and leave,” he said. “They really need to engage in undergraduate research. Studying abroad and internships are really valuable for student preparation.”

College is not an option for some students and the principal of the Center for Career and Technology Education is hopeful his staff can help steer those students in the right direction.

“It’s up to us to help them figure out if they want to go to a four-year university, community college, trade school or going straight into the workforce,” Principal Matthew Farley said. “Every student’s plan is different.”

The center offers opportunities for junior and senior students coming from 14 high schools in the El Paso region, mainly focusing on the El Paso Independent School District. The course schedule includes: agriculture, food and natural resources, business management, hospitality, health sciences, transportation, marketing and manufacturing.

“Sucess is not always about earning an A, “Farley said. “It’s about worth ethic and as long as my faculty and staff always gives a kid the opportunity to be successful. I hope that everything we do on a day-to-day basis would help lower the unemployment rate.”

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