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Intel misses mark on in-state hires

Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal

For the third time in five years, computer chipmaker Intel failed to ensure that 60 percent of the new hires at its Rio Rancho plant are New Mexico residents.

That means the company will have to spend $100,000 toward school-to-work programs, under an agreement it made with Sandoval County.

Liz Shipley, Intel’s government affairs manager in New Mexico, said as technology becomes more complex, the company is having more difficulty finding candidates locally and nationally who have the needed master’s or doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

“It’s not just in New Mexico; we’re seeing a shortage throughout the country,” Shipley told Sandoval County commissioners on Thursday.

A report Shipley presented to the commission showed that about 26 percent – or 19 of the 74 employees the company hired in 2012 – were state residents.

Intel currently has about 3,300 employees at its Rio Rancho plant. 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 2011 and 2009 as well. In 2011, 35 percent of 349 new hires were from New Mexico. In 2009, three of eight new hires were state residents. In 2010, the company’s New Mexico hires were right at the 60 percent mark.

The company is committed to working with New Mexico schools to improve paths to technology and engineering careers, Intel spokeswoman and Education Manager Natasha Martell Jackson said Friday.

The school-to-work programs that receive the $100,000 are designed to prepare students to enter the job market; money is distributed to public school systems in Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Cuba and Jemez Valley, based on enrollment figures, county spokesman Sidney Hill said.

Rio Rancho used the $70,000 it received when Intel missed the target in 2012 to establish a course in “cybersecurity” at V. Sue Cleveland High School. About 30 students are enrolled in the inaugural class this year, school district spokeswoman Kim Vesely said.

In 2012, the Rio Rancho plant was one of several Intel facilities to run a six-week “boot camp,” which gave university engineering students the opportunity to shadow Intel engineers at the plant. The program drew about 90 students from the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute and Central New Mexico Community College.

Martell Jackson said the company is considering running the program again in Rio Rancho.

Intel is also a partner in the Mission: Graduate project, a collaboration among United Way of Central New Mexico, UNM, CNM, Albuquerque Public Schools, Rio Rancho Public Schools, local business leaders and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. The project goal is to add 60,000 new associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees to central New Mexico by 2020.

“We know that for us to help current businesses grow and to attract new economic activity, we have to generate a more educated workforce,” said CNM President Kathie Winograd, who co-chairs the project with Jim Hinton, president and CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services.