UNM Student Regent Jake Wellman introduces U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at a brief appearance in UNM's Student Union Building.
UNM Student Regent Jake Wellman introduces U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at a brief appearance in UNM's Student Union Building.


U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis visited UNM on Friday, Oct. 26 and spoke about the links between higher education and the increasing demand for complex skills in the labor market. She detailed the programs the U.S. Department of Labor has to promote job opportunities and apprenticeship programs. In particular she spoke about the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program (TAA), which aids displaced workers who are interested in developing new skills.

Solis answered a series of pre-screened questions on women, the summer youth employment programs and on President Barack Obama's plans to assist immigrants. She said her department has hired more than 700 investigators to monitor employers to protect against wage theft and is working to see the farm workers receive the protections allowed them by U.S. law.

Although many of her remarks were addressed to training programs targeting students at community colleges, she did mention the role of research universities in developing graduates in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Solis noted that manufacturers are seeing a lack of employees with specific skills in these areas.

Solis says the Obama administration is particularly interested in seeing that veterans have a pathway to learn new skills as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan, and mentioned intensive assistance programs that have been developed in cooperation with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ease the transition of veterans into an educational environment.

Solis highlighted her own journey toward a university education from a middle class family in Southern California, through her legislative career as a member of the 32nd Congressional District in California. She was nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of Labor in 2009.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; email: kwent2@unm.edu