Intel layoffs will strain Oregon hiring capacity, but help emerges for job seekers.

Flux President, Dominic Moore discusses Oregon's Intel layoffs - and Flux's role in local recruitment - with The Oregonian's Mike Rogoway this week:  

http://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/index.ssf/2016/05/intel_layoffs_will_strain_oreg.html#incart_2box_business

For some it came as a complete shock: Routine meetings with Intel managers, joined unexpectedly by grim-faced human resources representatives.

Others say they saw it coming since their last review in Intel's annual "Focal" performance evaluation, when they received ratings they felt put a target on their back.

Nearly 800 of Intel's 19,500 Oregon employees were given pink slips last month in one of the biggest rounds of job cuts in company history. Workers who lost their jobs say Intel promptly escorted them from the office, bringing an immediate end to careers that had sometimes lasted for decades.

Several hundred more will leave their jobs over the next year through buyouts, early-retirement packages and additional jobs cut as Intel cancels projects during a massive restructuring designed to re-engineer the company for the post-PC era.

Altogether, Intel is reducing its global workforce by 11 percent – 12,000 jobs.

While Oregon tech jobs are at their healthiest point in a decade, the sudden addition of hundreds of job hunters – with hundreds more to come – will "strain" local hiring capacity, said Dominic Moore, president of Flux Resources, a Lake Oswego recruitment firm.

"I think it's going to be tough," Moore said. "I don't want to sugarcoat anything. People need to expect it's going to be a process."

The state's flourishing technology ecosystem, though, is stocked with fast-growing companies hungry for skilled workers. Some of those companies are leaping at the opportunity to recruit former Intel employees.

Silicon Florist blogger Rick Turoczy has created a list of more than 100 local organizations that have said they are open to hiring the laid-off workers, and Oregon employment officials created a "rapid response team" to help Intel alumni find new work. Others are posting job openings and inviting Intel workers to apply or get in touch.

Intel employees tend to be well educated and highly skilled, said Sabrina Van Artsdalen, a program manager with Worksystems Inc., a federally funded nonprofit that works with state and local governments to provide job-placement services – including on the Intel rapid response.

However, Van Artsdalen cautioned those skills don't necessarily match up with the jobs available in Oregon.

Most of Oregon's tech growth is in software, whereas much of Intel's employment is related to its chip manufacturing and engineering. And Intel managers' experience at a big company in the suburbs doesn't necessarily match up with what young tech companies are looking for in downtown Portland.

"We do have a really robust high-tech community here," Van Artsdalen said, "but if you look at it, it's not those kinds of positions."

Longtime Intel engineering manager Rick Zucker created the Intel Eliminati online support group last year when he lost his job after 22 years at the company. His group attracted 50 people following last year's layoffs, offering personal and professional support to help workers get back on their feet, and membership has roughly doubled since the fresh job cuts last month.

"Success would be eventually everybody gets in the place where they want to be," Zucker said: In a new job, training for a new career, or embracing retirement. He now runs a blog with tips for job-seekers.

Just seven of the Eliminati's 50 original members have found work. Some chose to retire, he said, but Intel's layoffs skewed older last year and most members of his group worked in hardware or computer chips. Zucker said that's not what most Oregon tech employers seek these days.

"My experience is they usually want people who are doing web stuff or are doing apps, and I'm not sure there are that many" among those Intel is laying off, Zucker said.

LinkedIn data shows the biggest employers of former Intel workers are Nike, graphics chipmaker Nvidia, semiconductor equipment maker Lam Research and Wilsonville-based Mentor Graphics, according to Moore.

"We may not be Silicon Valley, but we do have quite a few companies up here that will absorb most of these folks," Moore said.

Intel gave most laid-off employees at least several weeks of pay and six months or more of health insurance. Some will be paid for a year or more. That gives them time to develop new skill sets, update their resume and learn their way around the local tech community.

"This came so hard and so fast. Nobody was expecting this," Moore said. "It's sort of a lesson for folks – you should always have your resume updated. You should always be networking."

-- Mike Rogoway

 

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