INTEL supervisors are to be sent to the US to reassure Irish staff that their jobs are secure despite being told they are being brought home early from training.
Six hundred staff from the microchip giant are in Mexico, Arizona and Oregon working alongside their American colleagues to get up to speed on new technology. Another 150 are there specifically on training programmes.
They were sent out in phases up to 18 months ago while part of the Leixlip factory was being refitted to produce Intel next generation 14-nanometer microchips, known as the 1272 process.
It is understood the staff were due to return home in March, but instead are coming back earlier as plans for the introduction of the 1272 have been delayed.
The move has led to speculation that staff fear that the Leixlip plant was being sidelined. However, it is understood that supervisors are being sent to reassure the staff that despite the delay, the introduction of the new product will go ahead and that jobs are secure.
"We would like to reinforce that there are no changes to Intel's overall 1272 roadmap and that we regularly adjust our worldwide expert workforce depending on local and global needs and economic conditions," a spokesman said.
One Intel source said that the plan to return the staff to Ireland was around cost-cutting and that while plans have been delayed, they have not been abandoned.
"They're not going to lose their jobs."
It is believed that more than 800 people remain in Ireland retrofitting the Leixlip site for the new product.
The news comes as it emerged that Intel has been overtaken for the first time in market value by rival Qualcomm, adding to the evidence that smartphones are gaining ground over computers.
Intel remains the world's biggest chipmaker by revenues, recording $54bn (€42bn) in 2011 compared with Qualcomm's $19bn.