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Semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. is set to boom, and demand for skilled tech workers is sky-high. Here are five tips for meeting the chips talent challenge.
The modern world runs on chips, or semiconductors, pieces of silicon wafer the size of your fingernail. Hidden from view, they bring functionality to everything from phones and TVs to cars, fridges, TVs and electric toothbrushes — in short, any device or appliance with an integrated circuit.
McKinsey has declared this the semiconductor decade, predicting the $600 billion industry could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Demand for chips, already outpacing supply, is expected to continue on a steep upward trajectory, driven by developments in 5G and 6G, AI, cloud, quantum computing, wearables and the proliferation of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
the semiconductor supply challenge
So, it’s boom time for chips. But for the semiconductor industry to reach its potential, it will need to overcome the headline shortages and bottlenecks of recent years. Despite having invented the “chip” in the 1970s, the United States currently produces only around 12 percent of the world’s semiconductors, with about 80 percent manufactured in East Asia. But change is in the air: the CHIPS for America Act of 2022, a substantial $280 billion package, promises “investments and incentives to support U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, research and development.” The goal is for the U.S. to reach a 30 percent share of global chip production by 2030.
The figures certainly command attention and the U.S. semiconductor industry has responded by announcing massive investments in new fabs. But funding is just one piece of the puzzle. Ramping up domestic chip production is a challenge that is complex and multifaceted — and at its center is the need for skilled talent. By 2030, Deloitte predicts the semiconductor industry will need over a million more skilled workers to meet soaring demand.
5 ways to fill computer chip & semiconductor jobs
Here are some ways you can recruit more skilled semiconductor talent.
1. leverage the CHIPS for America Act
As well as channeling funds into new manufacturing facilities, the CHIPS act supports workforce development, including expansion to underrepresented groups in this industry, partnerships, paid training, education and apprenticeships. Stay tuned to the CHIPS for America website for updates on accessing investment, grants and support.
2. hire based on adjacent skills
From an academic point of view, the semiconductor industry is remarkably multidisciplinary — physics, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, coding, computing and software are all relevant. This can work in your favor. Cast your net wider by considering job-adjacent skill sets combined with high-quality training programs.
3. embrace the upskilling and reskilling revolution
Skills-based hiring is on the rise, helping companies expand their talent pools, hire internally and access hidden talent. By skill-mapping your semiconductor organization for present — and, crucially, future —needs, you’ll be well-positioned to craft upskilling and reskilling programs to fill the gaps.
In particular, you’ll want to focus on skills associated with two of the most common semiconductors used in electronics today: application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Look for early-career professionals with engineering chops and nudge them toward career paths in ASIC and FPGA design, verification and validation. That may sound like a long-winded process — and it would be if you went it alone. Embrace talent development partnerships, on the other hand, and you can turn potential talent into productive engineers in surprisingly short order.
4. ramp up your outreach programs
Demand for tech skills is sky-high, with an estimated 50,000 semiconductor engineers needed in the U.S. over the next five years. In this climate, organizations that nurture their networks and talent pipelines stand to gain. Without neglecting your traditional routes — universities, engineering schools, STEM college fairs — consider extending your outreach to middle and high school students, traditionally underrepresented groups, local tech schools and educational establishments launching specialist new semiconductor qualifications.
5. partner with a leading staffing company
Even if the semiconductor talent shortage is top of your worry list, it’s probably not the only business challenge you’re facing right now. Want to share the burden? Get in touch with Randstad Engineering— specialists in designing and delivering collaborative, customized solutions for companies of all sizes.