Semiconductor Industry Association Unveils Policy Blueprint to Address Workforce Challenges

To bolster America’s semiconductor industry and maintain its global technological edge, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has rolled out a comprehensive policy blueprint aimed at cultivating a skilled workforce for the future.
Semiconductor job shortage SIA report 2024Zach Isakowitz, Director of Government Affairs at SIA, has emphasized the imperative of addressing the shortfall in skilled workers facing the semiconductor sector and the wider economy, releasing the report on semiconductor jobs.

The study projects that the U.S. economy will generate approximately 3.85 million new jobs by 2030 that demand proficiency in technical fields. However, an estimated 1.4 million of these positions are at risk of remaining unfilled due to a relative dearth of skilled technicians, highly educated engineers, and computer scientists.

According to projections outlined in SIA’s “Chipping Away” report released in July 2023, the U.S. will face deficit in the supply of skilled workers to expand the domestic semiconductor industry. The semiconductor industry currently employs 345,000 individuals.

Within the semiconductor industry specifically, the workforce required for chip manufacturing and design is expected to expand by nearly 115,000 jobs by the end of the decade. Alarmingly, about 67,000 of these new positions — constituting 58 percent of projected growth, including 80 percent of new technical roles — are at risk of remaining vacant based on current completion rates.

Of the unfilled jobs, the positions are divided as follows:

39 percent (26,400) will be technicians (most of whom will require some postsecondary training, but not a four-year degree)

35 percent (23,300) will be computer scientists or engineers with a four-year degree

26 percent (17,400) will be engineers at the master’s or PhD level

The shortage of skilled workers extends throughout the semiconductor supply chain, encompassing roles from research-driven engineers to technicians responsible for operating and maintaining fabrication equipment.

This shortage affects various players in the industry, including fabless companies focusing on chip function and design, foundries specializing in chip manufacturing, integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) engaged in both aspects, as well as supply chain partners providing sophisticated equipment, chemicals, gases, and materials essential for chip production.

SIA Workforce Policy Blueprint

In response to these challenges, the SIA Workforce Policy Blueprint adopts a multifaceted approach, proposing a range of policies designed to address the anticipated demand for skilled labor across various segments of the semiconductor workforce.

Key initiatives outlined in the blueprint include:

Building the Supply of Engineers and Scientists: Recognizing the pivotal role of innovation in driving technological progress, the blueprint underscores the importance of fostering a robust pipeline of highly educated engineers and computer scientists. It calls for increased funding for research and development at federal agencies and advocates for targeted immigration policies to attract top talent.

Improving and Simplifying Technician Training: Given the specialized nature of semiconductor fabrication, the blueprint advocates for policies aimed at expanding high-quality workforce training programs for technicians. It suggests aligning training outcomes with industry needs and streamlining training systems through standardization and recognition of prior learning.

Addressing Cross-Cutting Workforce Challenges: To address broader workforce issues, the blueprint proposes measures to reduce financial barriers, accelerate STEM education initiatives, and diversify the talent pool. It recommends partnerships between public and private sector entities to promote awareness of the semiconductor industry and enhance opportunities for underrepresented groups.

SIA urges policymakers to embrace a coordinated approach to workforce development, leveraging the recommendations outlined in the Workforce Policy Blueprint to fortify the domestic semiconductor workforce and safeguard national interests. SIA pledges its commitment to collaborating with Congress and the Administration to implement these critical initiatives.

TelecomLead.com News Desk

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