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Bridging the talent gap: STEM job fair planned for Thursday

Maggie Werner-Washburne, left, and Monica Sandoval-Johnson. (Courtesy of Hallie Nguyen)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are lots of science, technology, engineering and math-related jobs available in New Mexico, but companies seeking potential employees need better ways to connect with STEM professionals.

To help bridge the divide, the University of New Mexico’s Alumni Association and STEM Boomerang — which works to hook up in-state and out-of-state STEM professionals with local employers — will offer a STEM-focused career fair Thursday for UNM alumni, students approaching graduation, and their spouses and partners. The online event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will feature presentations by 17 companies looking for talented employees in the space, biotechnology and general technology industries in New Mexico.

The state’s national labs and three industry groups — NewSpace NM, the New Mexico Technology Council and the New Mexico Biotechnology Association — will participate, with ample opportunity for companies and STEM professionals to meet individually in breakout sessions, said retired University of New Mexico biology professor Maggie Werner-Washburne.

The state’s growing startup ecosystem has generated a broad array of small technology-related companies seeking talent across New Mexico, Werner-Washburne said. And with the post-pandemic recovery gaining momentum, many established firms are seeking new employees as well.

“The timing is perfect as the economy starts to heat up,” Werner-Washburne said. “The number of jobs here is growing a lot.”

Funding through the state’s Job Training Incentive Program and Local Economic Development Act is helping many New Mexico companies to expand and hire more people, said Monica Sandoval Johnson, STEM Boomerang CEO and a JTIP board member.

“Everyone is talking about jobs, because so many companies are starting up or coming to the state and growing their operations in the space industry, in biotechnology and in technology businesses in general,” Sandoval Johnson said. “There are lots of small companies looking to hire. STEM jobs here have grown exponentially.”

STEM Boomerang, which launched in 2017, holds its own annual, year-end career fair for STEM professionals that have attracted hundreds of job-seeking individuals who left the state and want to return, or who are studying or recently graduated and need connections to local industry and resources. Many have found jobs by networking through STEM Boomerang, prompting the UNM Alumni Association to request its assistance in organizing this week’s career fair.

STEM Boomerang will launch a new career portal website in late May to connect employers with STEM professionals year-round using advanced algorithms to match job seekers with companies.

To register for this week’s job fair, or to get more information, visit https://stemboomerang.org/career-fair-2021/, send an email to alumni@unm.edu, or call the UNM Alumni Relations Office at 505-277-5808.


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