Building the Workforce for a Transitional Tech Economy

Friday, Jan 27, 2023, 12:00pm

By Guest Contributor, Mike Russo, President & CEO, NIIT

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted an uncomfortable truth that had long been simmering in the back of our minds: the U.S. does not have an adequate tech workforce. As global supply chains shut down, everything from automobiles to home appliances faced shortages as our domestic capacity in advanced manufacturing could not keep up with demand.

The need to strengthen our domestic tech supply chain presents an opportunity for the United States to refine its approach to talent pipeline development and workforce initiatives in the nanotechnology industry. Doing so positions our country to compete with the major international global forces in the transitional economy. As the global economy shifts and evolves, so must our approach to the workforce – especially in these strategically important industries.

Old educational and workforce models do not meet this challenge before our country. Only nations that successfully establish a new approach to workforce development in the tech industry will maintain a strong position in tomorrow’s economy. Developing and deploying an innovative national strategy is key to ensuring the U.S. creates a robust workforce in these sectors, and Registered Apprenticeship Programs are essential to this effort.

In the U.S., the value of apprenticeships is underestimated. While apprenticeship programs are viewed as essential for well-respected trades like electricians or butchers, apprenticeships are uncommon in the tech sector. As a result, tech companies miss out on the benefits apprenticeship programs offer.

Apprenticeships provide direct training for job candidates, cutting out the disconnect between traditional education and needed skills. They allow job seekers from all backgrounds to develop in-demand skillsets that lead to fruitful careers. Apprenticeships also boost job retention – creating the opportunity for job seekers to obtain long-term employment, a benefit for both the employee and employer. As the U.S. seeks to rapidly upskill its workforce in the nanotechnology sector, offering Registered Apprenticeship Programs across the country creates a mutually beneficial opportunity for job seekers and employers alike.

Broadening and developing the U.S. tech talent pipeline positions our country as a competitive economic force globally and decreases reliance on other nations to meet increased demand for tech. This task necessitates a national strategy and infrastructure focused on skilling, reskilling and upskilling job seekers and connecting them with Registered Apprenticeship Programs and career opportunities.

While this may seem like a daunting or overwhelming endeavor, I know that our country is up to the task. The Department of Labor is already engaging outside organizations to bolster apprenticeships and expand the talent pipeline in the domestic semiconductor industry. With the leadership of SIA and its member companies, we have the expertise, skills and resources to meet this challenge and build the nation’s talent pipeline for strategic tech-based industries.