Skills shortages hit US semiconductor sovereignty

Skills shortages hit US semiconductor sovereignty

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Recruitment technology firm Eightfold AI is warning of a substantial lack in the people who possess the skills for semiconductor plants in the US.

The report, “How the U.S. Can Reshore the Semiconductor Industry” is in-depth examination of the semiconductor industry, with an emphasis on the impact on US organizations and corresponding supply chains. The implications are even more significant for Europe.

The disruption in the availability of the semiconductor supply chain threatens to cause a catastrophic impact on the global economy and national security. Much has been said about the need to reduce dependency on extended supply chains and particularly onshore semiconductor manufacturing. Pending legislation would provide funding to aid in developing new chip fabrication facilities in the US to supply critical applications.

However the Eightfold analysis reveals a critical issue that must be addressed in skills.

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The research reveals that many existing semiconductor manufacturing roles and skills are rapidly losing prevalence in the modern workforce. In order to meet the capacity needs brought about by new fabs for critical semiconductor applications, the US needs to increase its current workforce by a minimum of 50 percent and likely significantly more. This is leading to both retraining for the existing workforce and a dire need for new workers with modern skills to run an expanding infrastructure.

“Every industry has to be prepared for the future, but for semiconductor organizations, the situation is increasingly urgent,” said Kamal Ahluwalia, President at Eightfold AI. “As reshoring efforts gain momentum, top talent that knows how to run a modern semiconductor fab will become the most valuable asset in the industry. The ability to identify that potential and upskill both existing and prospective employees will become the biggest differentiator for leading organizations in this space.”

Eightfold AI’s report examines the decline of US semiconductor production operation roles as manufacturing moved offshore, and how a reinvigoration of this area can increase American market share.

The report also proposes a multi-pronged approach to reshore US semiconductor manufacturing, which includes re-skilling and up-skilling the current semiconductor workforce, by assisting large-scale manufacturers in converting roles with declining relevance into rising opportunities.

By identifying adjacent skills and the ability to quickly learn and deploy new capabilities, the semiconductor industry can rapidly expand the talent pool to meet the rapid rise in demand. Policy and investment in the semiconductor industry which incentivize manufacturers and accelerate the development and operationalization of the fabrication plants can increase production overall.

The report considers all major semiconductor manufacturing firms operating in the US including but not limited to Intel, Micron Technology, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Global Foundries, and ON Semiconductor.

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