Preparing Students for the Changing Workforce


Something wonderful is happening in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At their ACE Leadership High School, there are no "ordinary" classrooms. Operated by the Associated General Contractors New Mexico Building Branch, this innovative charter school uses cutting-edge education and highly skilled instructors to prepare young people for successful careers in architecture, construction,and engineering professions.

The ACE model is fascinating. Their mission "is to equip young people who love to design and build things to become leaders in the construction profession. We will serve young people who have limited means to have successful careers by caring for their intellectual, physical and emotional wellbeing as students." Their four principles are: "Build a reputation"; "We're a family"; "Protect OUR own" and "Do the right thing".

ACE's values include "earning by doing, every day in every class" and the faculty and administration are committed to "Positive Youth Development, Project Based Learning, and the ACE context to guide [their] work". There is also a commitment "to accomplishing [their] work through partnership" and to being "collaborative in [their] work". The high school is also "committed to furthering the construction profession and their contributions to the community". I was also impressed by their value of being "accountable to those [they] serve".

The school has been recognized by the US Department of Labor as a "Trailblazer and Innovator", during the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the signing of the National Apprenticeship Act in August. Recently, Secretary Hilda Solis visited the school to see the program in action. There she met with students exploring 3D architecture modeling programs as well as those studying engineering, math, and teamwork skills---all of which are needed to succeed in video production. 

This charter school is an excellent example of what is possible when business and industry choose to collaborate with the educational community. Wise communities, particularly those where construction is so important, will embrace this model to engage their own students. While this building trades charter model is not for all students, there is an opportunity to
clone this model for other industries. With Millennials worldwide challenging their educational systems, this charter school solution is definitely worth considering.

Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic  business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and  
professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at


Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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