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Preparing the Semiconductor Industry’s Workforce of the Future

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By Gabriela Cruz Thompson, Senior Director of University Research and Collaboration at Intel Labs

When I was hired by Intel 20 years ago, after the company announced its first factory opening in Latin America, the university and technical education system was effervescent, and producing a high-tech educated workforce was a top priority. Today, the U.S. is experiencing similarly exciting times with new factories opening, but on a much larger scale. Yet unlike 20 years ago, today we are not sure we will have the trained technologists needed to drive innovation and ramp production across the supply chain.

With the CHIPS and Science Act, the U.S. is poised to attract more semiconductor manufacturing capacity on U.S. soil. Thousands of additional jobs are expected, and we need to cultivate a skilled and ready workforce that’s ready to get to work. As one of the world’s leading semiconductor companies, Intel has a crucial role to play. And we are stepping up to fund workforce training, curriculum development, and a steady flow of U.S. talent.

In Ohio alone, where we recently broke ground on our new chip manufacturing site, we expect to create 3,000 new long-term jobs for highly trained technical workers and workers with degrees in relevant STEM fields. 

These future jobs are anticipated to bring economic benefits across regions and communities. We’ve seen the impact directly at our Oregon and Arizona development sites.

In March, we announced the Quick Start program, our collaboration with the Maricopa Community College system. This accelerated, two-week program prepares students for careers as semiconductor technicians through hands-on learning from experienced Intel employees as instructors. In Oregon, where we celebrated the opening of our D1X expansion earlier this year, we’re also launching the Quick Start program in collaboration with Portland Community College, the City of Hillsboro, Worksystems, Inc., and other stakeholders. The first cohort starts later this month.

And knowing the hiring ahead in Ohio, Intel committed $50 million to Ohio higher education institutions over the next decade. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will match an additional $50 million from Intel for national funding opportunities.

We recently announced the first phase of this Ohio commitment, providing a total of $17.7 million in grant funding over the next three years to collaborative proposals led by top Ohio colleges and universities, including a Historically Black University and an Appalachian Region institute, and involving more than 80 institutions of higher education across Ohio.

For its part, NSF has announced $10 million partnership with Intel Corporation to train and build a skilled semiconductor manufacturing workforce. Projects funded will focus on semiconductor industry workforce development for high-technology fields that are critical to future semiconductor design and manufacturing. Those interested can apply for award opportunities through two NSF programs: the Advanced Technological Education program, which supports the education of the skilled technical workforce at the undergraduate and secondary school levels; and the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, which supports institutions of higher education to fund scholarships for academically talented, low-income students.

Investments such as these will create a semiconductor talent ecosystem that prepares workers for the jobs that are coming.  All these investments aim to create opportunities for a diverse range of students and expand curriculum development, faculty training, lab equipment upgrades, and student experiential opportunities.

Join the discussion on public-private talent programs to continue this work

If you’re interested in learning more about these issues, I’ll be moderating a panel on October 17 at 5:00 pm EDT for Tech + Policy @ Intel: Building a Robust Semiconductor Talent Ecosystem.

We’ll hear from key industry leaders, policymakers, partners, and members of academia who are actively building the future workforce of innovators, including:

  • Erwin Gianchandani, U.S. National Science Foundation's assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships
  • Shari Liss, executive director of the SEMI Foundation
  • More panelists to be announced

Please join us! Register here