US semiconductor industry faces 67,000 worker shortfall: SIA

U.S. semiconductor industry is expected to face a significant shortfall of approximately 67,000 skilled workers by the year 2030, a study by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Oxford Economics revealed.
BE SemiconductorThe study indicates that while the workforce in the chip industry is projected to grow to 460,000 by the end of the decade, up from roughly 345,000 in the current year, the rate at which individuals are graduating from educational institutions will not be sufficient to meet the increasing demand for qualified professionals in the field, SIA said in its report.

The study comes at a time when the United States is actively striving to strengthen its domestic chip sector. In response to the growing challenges faced by the industry, the CHIPS Act was signed into law on August 9, with a primary focus on allocating funds for establishing new manufacturing facilities and facilitating research and development within the industry.

Under the oversight of the Commerce Department, a sum of $39 billion has been allocated for manufacturing subsidies, which companies like Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), and Samsung Electronics have expressed intentions to apply for. Additionally, the legislation offers a 25 percent investment tax credit, amounting to $24 billion, for the construction of new chip factories (fabs).

According to the SIA, the new chip factories established as a result of the CHIPS Act will generate employment opportunities, which will help alleviate the projected shortage of skilled workers. The shortage is expected to affect various job roles, including computer scientists, engineers, and technicians, with engineers accounting for approximately half of the future chip industry jobs.

John Neuffer, President of the SIA, highlighted that the issue of a dwindling skilled workforce has been a long-standing concern in the industry. However, with the enactment of the CHIPS Act and the focus on increasing domestic chip manufacturing in the U.S., the urgency of addressing this problem has become more apparent.

The study also points out that the scarcity of skilled chip workers is part of a broader deficit of graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the United States. By the end of 2023, it is estimated that 1.4 million positions in various industries requiring STEM qualifications may remain unfilled.

As the U.S. continues its efforts to bolster its semiconductor industry and address the workforce shortage, stakeholders are hopeful that these initiatives will lead to positive outcomes and promote the growth and competitiveness of the country’s semiconductor sector.

“We look forward to working with government leaders to advance policies that build on our industry’s longstanding workforce development efforts, expand the pipeline of STEM graduates in America, and retain and attract more of the top engineering students from around the world,” John Neuffer said.