SIA Releases Policy Blueprint to Build the Future Semiconductor Workforce

Monday, Apr 08, 2024, 3:30pm

by Zach Isakowitz, Director of Government Affairs

As America grows its domestic semiconductor ecosystem and reinforces its global technological leadership, a highly skilled workforce will ultimately determine our ability to compete and to fulfill the goals set by Congress and the Administration in the CHIPS and Science Act. Unfortunately, the U.S. faces a shortfall in the supply of skilled workers that the semiconductor industry and the broader economy will need over the next decade. SIA’s new Workforce Policy Blueprint, released today, addresses this challenge head on by proposing actionable legislative recommendations for policymakers that would help ensure the American semiconductor workforce is the best educated and trained in the world.


Projections from SIA’s “Chipping Away” report, published in July 2023, detail the scale of the challenge America will face securing the workers needed to build and sustain the domestic semiconductor industry. The chip industry currently employs 345,000 workers and is projected to add 115,000 more jobs by 2030. At current rates, 67,000 of those new jobs—which include technicians, engineers, and scientists—will go unfilled. And this shortfall is just a fraction of the larger workforce gap facing the economy as a whole, as the U.S. faces a gap of 1.4 million workers proficient in technical fields. This shortfall presents an economic and national security vulnerability in America’s drive to secure access to this critical technology.

The SIA Workforce Policy Blueprint takes a holistic approach to solving the workforce challenges ahead by proposing policies that would meet the projected demand for workers. A challenge of this magnitude—and the range of education and skills needed—cannot be solved by a single program or piece of public policy. Instead, SIA recommends implementation of a comprehensive approach that includes solutions for each in-demand subset of the workforce and is applicable at varying levels of education, experience, training, and background.

  1. Build the Supply of Engineers and Scientists

Innovation in the chip industry drives technological advancements in sectors throughout the economy, but America’s ability to build the next leading-edge technology requires highly educated engineers and computer scientists that can innovate the next generation of semiconductor manufacturing techniques, designs, materials, and equipment.

The blueprint highlights the need to prioritize funding at federal research agencies (NSF, NIST, DOE, and DOD) in order to train the scientists and engineers of the future. It also proposes policymakers examine a targeted approach to high-skill immigration policy that addresses near-term needs of strategic industries and ensures America has access to the world’s top talent.

  1. Improve and Simplify Training of Skilled Technicians

Semiconductor fabrication requires skilled technicians—who typically need post-secondary training but not necessarily a college degree—to maintain highly complex processes and equipment on fab floors.

The blueprint proposes certain policies that would expand high-quality workforce training programs, tie outcomes from these programs with the needs of industry, and simplify the workforce training system by standardizing training and curricula as well as recognizing prior learning.

  1. Cross-Cutting Workforce Challenges: Expanding the Pipeline and Addressing Affordability

Given the need for a significant influx of workers for the semiconductor industry and the broader economy, the blueprint details policies that would reduce financial barriers, accelerate those already in the STEM pipeline, and expand the number of individuals entering it.

SIA recommends a partnership between public and private sector leaders to build awareness of the semiconductor industry throughout the education cycle, create opportunities for veterans and groups underrepresented in STEM, and boost the number of advanced degree engineers and scientists.

Meeting the looming workforce challenge in the semiconductor industry and the broader economy is a monumental task that will require a comprehensive effort to meet the demand for skilled workers. SIA’s Workforce Policy Blueprint should be utilized by policymakers to take steps toward building the domestic semiconductor workforce and strengthening our economic and national security. SIA looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to implement the recommendations included in the blueprint.