ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the third time in five years, computer chipmaker Intel fell short of a goal set by Sandoval County to ensure 60 percent of the new hires for its Rio Rancho plant are New Mexico residents.
Lack of available individuals with advanced engineering degrees and skills has played a role in the hiring pattern, company spokesman Bill Davidson said on Friday.
A report presented to Sandoval County commissioners by Intel government affairs manager Liz Shipley this week showed only 35 percent of the 349 employees the company hired in 2011 were state residents.
The 60 percent hiring goal was one of the conditions the county set in 2004 when it approved a $16 billion revenue bond for Intel.
Intel missed the goal in 2009 and 2006, as well. In 2009, 27 percent of its 11 new hires were from New Mexico. In 2006, 103 or 56 percent of the 185 employees hired were state residents.
Figures Shipley provided showed that overall since 1995, 63 percent of Intel’s new hires have been from New Mexico.
“(But) as our technology becomes more complex to manufacture, our need for highly skilled individuals with a master’s or doctorate in engineering increases,” Davidson said. “We have seen a shortage of highly skilled engineers throughout the U.S. …This is not just a New Mexico problem.”
Intel currently has about 3,500 employees at its Rio Rancho plant.
Under the 2004 agreement, Intel must pay the county $100,000 to be spent on educational initiatives if it fails to meet the hiring requirement.
It’s not yet clear how the educational funding will be spent. The last time Intel had to pay, the commission voted to distribute funds based on information submitted by county school districts: $40,000 went to Rio Rancho, $25,000 to Bernalillo, $20,000 to Cuba and $15,000 to Jemez, county spokesman Sidney Hill said.
Programs that received funding included courses in which students receive college credits, internships and vocational courses, Hill said.