ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Advent Solar announced it is laying off 68 manufacturing employees, trimming nearly half its work force while it focuses on development of a new product.
Advent officials said Wednesday that the jobs had to be cut to allow time for research into a larger solar cell the company expects to begin making next year.
After the cuts, Advent will employ 78 workers, company spokeswoman Misty Benham said.
''We regret having to release so many good employees, but we just won't need manufacturing until next year,'' said Chief Executive Officer Peter Green.
Advent, which began operations in 2003, had announced 27 layoffs in September.
Green described Advent as in ''good financial shape'' and called the layoffs temporary. He said Advent plans to hire back the positions next year.
''The industry is growing at 30 percent to 40 percent per year, and with the cost of oil going through the roof, demand will remain strong,'' Benham said. ''Our product next year will be in hot demand, so we'll be able to hire back these positions.''
The departing employees will get nine weeks paid time off and three months of health insurance as part of a severance package.
The state Department of Workforce Solutions said the employees who were laid off will be receiving information on local job openings, unemployment benefits, education and training opportunities and veteran services.
A meeting between Advent and state work force officials is planned for April 8.
''We are confident that our stable economy has numerous opportunities for the affected employees,'' said department Secretary Betty Sparrow Doris.
Schott Solar, Inc., said Wednesday it will host a job fair exclusively for the Advent employees affected by the layoffs. The company is planning a 200,000 square-foot facility at Mesa del Sol, a development on the southern edge of the city.
''Schott Solar is grateful that we are in a unique opportunity to provide displaced individuals in Albuquerque's solar technology industry with employment opportunities,'' said Gerald Fine, president and chief executive of Schott North America.