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Got jobs? Introducing the New Mexico Technology Council

High tech in New Mexico is bringing jobs and stability to local communities

As in other states, the winds of recovery following the Great Recession have been fickle in New Mexico: unemployment rates remain high, wages have stagnated and businesses struggle to grow.

Or at least that’s the case with most industry in New Mexico.

It’s not the case with the thriving tech industry that has escaped many ill effects of the recession and its aftershocks, and the New Mexico Technology Council (NMTC) is one reason why.

The features included in this NMTC segment focus on companies that, through their membership with the NMTC, recognize the need to address common concerns together through creating jobs, training, better hiring practices and much more.

View each of the segment features here:

The NMTC was founded in 1999 by an all-volunteer group of “big players in the local tech industry who wanted to create a community of technology companies,” says Executive Director, Nyika Allen, who has been in her position since January 2015.

Initially the council was small and informal, but after roughly seven years, it created an executive director position and began to hire. Today, the NMTC has over 150 corporate members from across the state.

Allen says the council’s membership is varied and includes two national labs located in New Mexico, tech giants like Intel, and “homegrown companies” some of whom have more than doubled their staff since joining the NMTC, in part due to its advocacy and advice.

“The tech industry is so strong here—it’s been growing year after year for a while now. For us, to grow this industry is helping New Mexico’s bottom line.” – Executive Director, Nyika Allen

“The tech industry is so strong here—it’s been growing year after year for a while now,” says Allen, bucking the statewide trend of fewer jobs caused by the Recession. “For us, to grow this industry is helping New Mexico’s bottom line.”

Allen says many technology-based jobs pay 100% more than the average job in the state, which is hopeful considering the industry is hungry for talented employees.

“We’re finally seeing the need for more talent than there is [available in New Mexico],” says Allen.

One of the NMTC’s many goals is bridging the gap between a prosperous and expanding tech industry and an eager work force.  Allen says the work of NMTC’s members recently won Albuquerque a four million dollar Tech Hire Grant from the White House.

The grant is being used, among other things, to create training programs, including a technology boot camp in downtown Albuquerque that will give potential workers to useful tech skills. Allen says the course allows people who may not have a technology background to jump in and begin learning coding and web development in a job-specific and hands-on environment. She says that in some cases, participants gain experiences that rival what they would learn at a four year college.

Employers also need to be educated. The Council is working closely with one of its members, the STEMulus Center, to create a technology apprenticeship program that incentivizes companies to train more people on the job.

One of the NMTC’s many goals is bridging the gap between a prosperous and expanding tech industry and an eager work force.

“People are still in the mode of saying they need someone with a four year degree; they need someone with a specific skillset and can only train them to a certain extent,” Allen says.

Instead, the NMTC encourages New Mexico companies to train employees who are obviously bright but never had more formal training in their field. The council also encourages businesses to consider employees with on the job experience.

One of the NMTC’s members, Abba Technologies, whose story is in this section, sets an example by recruiting high-level engineers who have hands-on experience and industry certifications in place of advanced degrees.

Allen says that while New Mexico has several excellent colleges and universities, many young people in the state simply aren’t in a position to go to school. Intensive training programs aimed at these demographics level the playing field and foster a sense of pride in communities that may feel otherwise isolated from high-paying jobs.

“People are… working hard to change things. Many people I’ve talked to—they think a single person can make an impact,” says Allen.

Perhaps the stories in this section on council members show that’s true.

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