Nanotechnology industry looking for new recruits

UCL Mathamatical and Physical Sciences/Flickr
November 18, 2013

Hundreds of people turned out for a nanotechnology job fair in upstate New York this month. The industry’s being touted as a bright spot on the horizon for supplying new jobs. Many of the applicants are new looking for a job in the first time.

“I was at another job site location looking for employment until I seen the form, the advertisement. I saw nano and I was like, oh, nano… No, no, I haven’t been in it, I’ve never thought about getting into it but it’s very interesting… I saw the job fair and I thought it would be interesting to find out.”

New York’s investing heavily in the nanotechnology industry in the hopes that it will spur innovation and revitalize the state’s stagnant manufacturing sector.

The industry continues to complain that it’s hard to source workers, and last week’s job fair offered more than 150 positions just in upstate alone.

Dean Fuleihan from the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering says upstate New York does have a strong pool of talent.

“There’s a long tradition of manufacturing in upstate New York, we think that there’s a bright future. And nanotechnology, using a new and innovative approach to public private partnerships, recognizing that working together on research, creating a platform and competing in the global economy, is the way to develop those jobs.”

The industry’s deliberately pitching to people who mightn’t otherwise think about a career in nanotechnology; including women, veterans, and minorities.

Fuleihan says the state Department of Labor has made efforts to educate people about the job opportunities in the field, but a disconnect remains, with few people aware of the industry’s potential.

And, he says nanotech’s so pervasive it’s going to need a diverse workforce to deliver on its potential in areas like medicine, energy and defense.