RIO RANCHO — June 1, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, along with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, convened a meeting of representatives from New Mexico’s national labs, the University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College, Intel, and the Sandoval Economic Alliance, as well as Rio Rancho Mayor Greg Hull, to discuss the importance of collaboration to address New Mexico’s unemployment and slow economic recovery.
They also discussed the importance of working together to keep Intel strong in Rio Rancho, while retaining the talented workforce within New Mexico that could be impacted by Intel’s global restructuring.
Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories expect to hire about 5,000 people in the next five years. Udall and Luján have emphasized to the lab directors that whenever possible, the labs should fill the vacancies with New Mexico applicants, and the lab directors have agreed.
At the meeting, the group discussed the necessity of building a pipeline from the universities, including UNM and CNM, to the labs to ensure students are prepared for jobs — and to connect the labs with administrators, staff and faculty at the universities who can help promising students fill internships and jobs. Initial steps include career fairs and continued discussions between the labs and universities to tailor schools’ programs to labs’ needs.
While the national economy has steadily strengthened and added jobs, New Mexico’s economic recovery has lagged behind. Unemployment is still 6.2 percent, and layoffs at Intel, due to company-wide downsizing, could further slow the recovery.
In the meeting, Udall and Luján reiterated their commitment to working with Intel and local stakeholders to keep Intel strong, which has been an important part of the Rio Rancho community for more than 30 years. As Intel’s restructuring continues, Udall has worked with the lab directors to secure a promise that they will work to create opportunities to ensure that Intel employees can learn about and apply for openings at the labs, while Luján has encouraged LANL and Sandia to work with Intel employees whose skills and experience can make them an asset to the labs’ critical work.
“My top priority is doing everything I can to help strengthen New Mexico’s economy, including fighting for strong lab budgets and support for education. And that’s why when we learned of potential layoffs at Intel, I immediately contacted the lab directors to ensure they will do everything they could to help Intel workers transition to positions at the labs wherever possible. I appreciate that they immediately saw the opportunity to help,” Udall said. “The labs are positioned to hire thousands of new people in the next several years. And that presents a bigger opportunity for New Mexico. We must work to ensure the labs — and New Mexico workers — are collaborating. We need the labs to communicate and work with New Mexico students and others to navigate the employment process — and we need to ensure students are prepared for the opportunities at the labs. That is what we emphasized today. This was a good initial meeting, and I look forward to continuing to help build a bridge that can move our state forward.”
“The people of New Mexico have been and continue to be a tremendous resource for the employers in the State – from the National Labs, AFRL, and the research Universities, to the major private sector employers in the health and semiconductor industries, to the large number of smaller companies, startups, and entrepreneurs. Our people are our most valuable resource as we work together to foster opportunities that provide a bright future for these workers and their families,” Luján said. “By convening these stakeholders and bringing everyone together, we can ensure that the labs, the private sector, and universities are working in tandem to fully appreciate and engage New Mexico’s skilled workforce while growing the pipeline so that more New Mexicans have the skills that the labs and other employers in the state need and that attract new companies to do business in New Mexico.”
“We are glad to be working with Senator Udall and others to help people who are being adversely affected by Intel’s downsizing in Rio Rancho,” said CJ Bacino, a senior Human Resources official at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “As the largest employer in northern New Mexico, we have long been committed to developing the skills of our workforce in the region and, when we can, employing the qualified men and women who live right here in the lab’s backyard.”
“Intel and its employees are important members of the New Mexico community,” said Rob Nelson, Human Resources director for Sandia National Laboratories. “Sandia will work with Intel’s out-placement company to help workers laid off in the corporate downsizing identify Sandia job openings and navigate the job application process.”
“The University of New Mexico is already in multiple partnerships with the national laboratories along with CNM and other partners to provide and enhance
the talent pipeline for labs,” said UNM Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Chaouki T. Abdallah. “In addition, UNM believes that through its leadership in Innovate ABQ, we will be educating graduates for jobs that they will create, as well as for those at the labs and other companies.”