The U.S. semiconductor industry, responsible for powering everything from cars to smartphones, is experiencing a major increase in the demand for skilled workers, according to a report published by USA Today.
The U.S. has been set on a trajectory to capture a larger share of global chip production following the federal government’s $52 billion investment last year in semiconductor manufacturing incentives and research. However, this expansion brings forth a pressing challenge: the need for a skilled workforce in the semiconductor and broader tech sectors.
According to a study by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Oxford Economics, the U.S. semiconductor industry workforce is projected to grow by nearly 115,000 jobs by 2030. However, without action to bolster the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce, 67,000 of these jobs risk going unfilled.
This challenge isn’t limited to the semiconductor industry. The SIA/Oxford study estimates that by 2030, the U.S. economy will create an additional 3.85 million jobs requiring technical proficiency. Alarmingly, 1.4 million of these jobs might remain vacant unless there’s a surge in STEM professionals, according to USA Today.
In 2023 the number of students who are pursuing the STEM can’t keep up with industry demand, and many who do graduate in these fields often divert into other careers. It’s estimated that by 2030, the U.S. semiconductor industry alone will face a shortage of 17,000 master’s and Ph.D. engineers.
Collaborative efforts between educators, public, and private sectors are going to be important for solving the challenge of skilled labor demands. Initiatives like recruitment campaigns, scholarships, research fellowships, and specialized training programs can make a difference. However, these initiatives will likely need to be scaled nationwide, and will likely take years, according to USA Today.
While the U.S. is in the midst of kickstarting a new era in semiconductor production and investments, the success of this movement hinges on attracting and retaining a skilled workforce.