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Editorial: Intel, higher ed have to chip away at hiring needs

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In 2012, when Intel failed to ensure 60 percent of its new hires were New Mexico residents per its bond agreement with Sandoval County, company officials expressed concern that the marketplace was moving on and the state’s education system was not.

The latest numbers show those execs know more than how to make computer chips.

For the third time in five years – and the fourth time since 2006 – Intel hasn’t been able to find enough local candidates with the right technical skills and education background. Just 19 of the 74 employees Intel hired last year, a puny 26 percent, were state residents.

Liz Shipley, Intel’s government affairs manager in New Mexico, says the company simply cannot find enough applicants with master’s or doctoral degrees in science and engineering – and that that’s true of the company’s needs nationally.

But it’s a head-scratcher in a state with a flagship research university, a university focused on science and engineering degrees, a university with an alumnus appointed to be the No. 2 in the Interior Department, and a community college system that is the state’s largest institution of post secondary education.

It raises the question of whether the right hand is talking to the left, so to speak. And if the left is listening.

Granted, it takes time to fill a pipeline with graduates who have an employer’s targeted degrees. But it is important for New Mexico for all stakeholders – Intel, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University and Central New Mexico Community College, as well as the myriad sci-tech high schools popping up – to engage in an ongoing dialogue if Intel is going to avoid the mandatory $100,000 donation to school-to-work programs for falling short on hiring New Mexicans, along with the cost of relocating the majority of its new employees.

And if New Mexico’s leading college and universities are going to graduate students who can fill what were the jobs of the future and are now the jobs of the present.

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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