Intel Misses New Mexico Hiring Quota

For the third time in five years, Intel has failed to meet a New Mexico requirement that 60 percent of the new hires at its Rio Rancho plant be state residents.

Intel Logo croppedNew Mexico set the requirement in 2004 when it approved a $16 billion revenue bond for Intel. In 2012, only 19 of the 74 employees (44 percent) the company hired were state residents. It also missed the benchmark in 2009 and 2011. For missing the quota, Intel must pay $100,000 toward state career training programs.

In a meeting with Sandoval County commissioners last week, Liz Shipley, Intel’s Government Affairs Manager in the state, cited difficulty in attracting candidates with master’s or doctoral degrees in science and engineering. “It’s not just in New Mexico,” she said. “We’re seeing a shortage throughout the country.”

In 2011, Intel Online Services COO Renee James, who’s now the company’s President, created a furor in Oregon by saying few of the 1,000 workers hired at its new D1X research and development plant would be state residents. Lamenting Oregon’s low ranking (49th in the nation) in college enrollment, she said the state was not producing the workers Intel needed.

Intel is building big new plants in Oregon and Arizona, with New Mexico residents pondering when the Rio Rancho plant will land an upgrade. It’s been retooled five times since the 1980s. However, it produces 32-nanometer chips, making it several cycles behind Oregon’s D1X Module 1, which is set to produce 14nm chips on 300mm wafers. The roughly 1.1 million-square-foot D1X Module 2 under construction in Oregon will produce 450mm wafers, rather than the standard 300mm wafers.

“The next node is 10 nanometer, and no decision has been made yet about where that will be,” Kirby Jefferson, who became Intel’s Rio Rancho Site Manager in May, told the Albuquerque Journal. Indeed, the decision could be a year away, he said. At the moment, Intel’s website does not list any open positions in engineering or IT at Rio Rancho.

Intel is retooling to adapt to the decline in PC sales with forays into contract manufacturing and server chips for wireless base stations.

With 3,300 employees, Intel is the largest industrial employer in New Mexico. The state has also pitched in to help the company create what was then the third-fastest supercomputer in the world (currently ranked No. 32), the Xeon-powered supercomputer “Encanto” at the Rio Rancho campus.

4 Responses to “Intel Misses New Mexico Hiring Quota”

  1. Eric Nay

    Hmm. Companies lament not getting educated workers in remote places like NM & Oregon, yet there are plenty of STEM workers in high-wage places like California. It seems the answer is obvious. Companies just don’t want to pay for what they need. Either they get cheap workers they have to train, or they have to pay high wages to get pre-trained workers. I’m shedding no tears for these companies.

  2. bluemountain184

    Am I supposed to be surprised by this?
    A friend of mine who has worked at Intel (SC12 building in Santa Clara) has told me that the company has a fairly rigid “caste system” like employment practice
    Most software engineers there are Indian descent, most hardware engineers are Indian or east Asian descent, most marketing people are white, most building maintenance people are Hispanic, hardly any black people work at Intel, and hardly anyone there is over 50 years old (i.e., age discrimination), etc.
    I guess the local residents of New Mexico (mostly Hispanic descent), Oregon (mostly white I presume), or even Silicon Valley (I have tried to apply for internship multiple times when I used to be an undergraduate student at San Jose State University, I am white myself.) don’t meet the profile of the type of people Intel wants to hire.
    Based on the lines at SJSU job fair for Intel, I presume the “real” profile of people they want to hire are young Master’s degree students from India, at least for engineering work, because they were 90% of the people in line looked like that.

  3. Intel used to have a large facility in San Diego where tech workers were (and are) abundant. That plant was closed for some political reason.
    For some reason Intel now likes opening plants in obscure corners of sparsely populated states and wonder why niche technical workers are not abundantly available!

  4. Fred Bosick

    It may appear to be a caste system but is more likely to be the cheap system. Based on comments from other articles, the make up of the software and hardware engineering teams seems to be the new Silicon Valley standard,

    The “mayor” of Silicon Valley was from Iowa.