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Editorial: Intel Non-Hiring An Education Indicator

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It’s a concept Intel knows something about — supply and demand. Unfortunately, in three of the last five years, New Mexico has been unable to hold up its part of the $16 billion revenue bond bargain it made with the computer-chip giant.

As part of the 2004 deal with Sandoval County, Intel is required to ensure 60 percent of its hires each year are New Mexicans. But for that to happen, there has to be qualified New Mexicans to hire — in other words, New Mexicans with advanced engineering degrees and skills.

And Intel says there aren’t enough.

Last year just 35 percent of Intel’s 349 hires were state residents. In 2009, 27 percent of its 11 new hires were from New Mexico. And in 2006, 56 percent of the 185 employees hired were state residents.

Since 1995, Intel has met or exceeded the hiring goal in all other years save for 2001, when 50 percent of the hires were New Mexicans. At best the numbers show the state is not consistently graduating enough qualified science/technology majors. At worst they show the marketplace is moving on and the state’s — make that the nation’s — education system is not.

Intel officials are concerned the latter is the case. Spokesman Bill Davidson says “as our technology becomes more complex to manufacture, our need for highly skilled individuals with a master’s or doctorate in engineering increases. We have seen a shortage of highly skilled engineers throughout the U.S. … This is not just a New Mexico problem.”

That concern raises the question to an answer provided by outgoing University of New Mexico President David Schmidly earlier this month. Schmidly emphasized that the state’s universities must strengthen research and working relationships with the sci/tech private sector if the state’s economy is going to move forward.

Intel’s numbers bear his argument out.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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