In a joint study by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Oxford Economics, it has been revealed that the United States is facing a significant shortage of technicians, computer scientists, and engineers. By 2030, the semiconductor industry alone is projected to have a shortfall of 67,000 workers, while the entire U.S. economy is estimated to lack 1.4 million skilled individuals in these fields. This shortage poses a challenge to the growth and innovation of both the chip industry and the broader economy.
The report, titled “Chipping Away: Assessing and Addressing the Labor Market Gap Facing the U.S. Semiconductor Industry,” emphasizes the critical role of semiconductor workers in driving progress and development in technology. To overcome this talent shortage, the study presents three core policy recommendations:
- Strengthen support for regional partnerships and programs that foster skilled technicians for semiconductor manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sectors.
- Foster growth in the domestic STEM pipeline to ensure a supply of engineers and computer scientists vital to the semiconductor industry and other sectors crucial to the future economy.
- Attract and retain more international advanced degree students to bolster the U.S. technical workforce.
The enactment of the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022 has been a significant milestone, encouraging investment in chip manufacturing capacity and R&D in the U.S. With semiconductor demand expected to rise considerably by 2030, the industry is projected to create nearly 115,000 jobs, reaching approximately 460,000 jobs by the end of the decade. However, without concerted efforts to bridge the talent gap, an estimated 67,000 jobs within the semiconductor industry may remain unfilled.
The study identifies the need for skilled workers in technician, engineering, and computer science roles. Semiconductors are foundational to countless critical technologies, making it crucial to address this shortage to promote growth and innovation across the entire economy.
The semiconductor industry has long conducted various programs to recruit, train, and employ a diverse, skilled workforce. Companies have forged partnerships with educational institutions, including community colleges, technical schools, universities, and laboratories. As demand increases alongside CHIPS investments, companies expand their workforce development efforts. Nonetheless, the government’s collaboration with industry and academia is crucial to prioritize measures to close the skills gap in the semiconductor industry and the broader economy.
With historic investments in domestic semiconductor production and innovation, the CHIPS and Science Act has laid the groundwork for strengthening the semiconductor workforce in America. Now, collaboration between government, industry, and academia is vital to building on existing workforce development initiatives, nurturing the STEM talent pipeline, and attracting engineering talent worldwide. By doing so, the U.S. can realize the full potential of semiconductor innovation and secure its position in the global tech landscape.
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