- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

MERRIMACK, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire technology companies are coming together to share their concerns in hopes of improving their industry’s outlook.

The state Department of Resources and Economic Development on Tuesday is launching the New Hampshire Technology Talent Partnership, which is part of a larger state effort to bring similar businesses together to address workforce needs and help workers prepare for or advance in their careers.

The New Hampshire Sector Partnerships Initiative started last summer with gatherings for manufacturers, and future partnerships will focus on the health care and hospitality industries. Tuesday’s meeting in Merrimack will include a panel discussion of the state of information technology and tech occupations.

The state’s unemployment rate sits below 3 percent, and businesses say it’s difficult to find skilled workers. In information technology in particular, the state’s proximity to greater Boston’s strong tech economy has complicated the talent pipeline.

“These partnerships are a formal collaboration where businesses meet on a regular basis to discuss their shared needs for training and employment recruitment and retention,” said Jeff Rose, commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. “They do this collaboratively, so we can talk about this from a sector perspective and not necessarily one company versus another company, and recognizing that collectively, we can raise the tide for all the ships.”

State officials say information technology accounts for about 26,800 workers in New Hampshire. If measured as a traditional sector, it would be among the state’s top 10 industries.

Those workers are among nearly 44,000 people employed by New Hampshire’s entire high tech sector, according to the New Hampshire High Tech Council. Matt Cookson, the council’s executive director, said an average of 3,000 tech jobs go unfilled each month, a number that has doubled in the last year and a half.

“Companies can’t grow if they can’t hire,” he said.

Cookson, who will moderate a panel discussion at Tuesday’s kickoff event, said he hopes the initiative will generate solutions in attracting, retaining, and retraining workers. Particularly with the latter goal, he said he said the partnership has the potential to bring together those who need training with those who can provide and pay for it.

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