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Setting the Collaborative Table to Ensure America’s Competitiveness

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By: Christy Pambianchi, Chief People Officer

The CHIPS and Science Act is poised to attract more semiconductor manufacturing capacity on U.S. soil and create thousands of new, good-paying jobs. However, we need to cultivate a skilled and ready workforce that's prepared to meet this growing demand.

I recently participated in the “Strengthening American Competitiveness” panel during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Forward event for a discussion about setting a collaborative table to address the nation’s current workforce problems, namely, engaging key stakeholders in the wake of this landmark legislation.

As one of the world’s leading semiconductor companies, Intel has a crucial role to play. And we are already stepping up in numerous ways to fund workforce training programs as well as curriculum development to ensure a steady flow of U.S. talent.

CHIPS Act Workforce Impact

I’ve seen estimates indicating the CHIPS Act will create demand for up to 300,000 new workers over the next several years. Intel’s four new fabs in Arizona and Ohio alone are expected to create a total of 70,000 jobs within Intel, our suppliers, and the greater semiconductor ecosystem.

We also recently opened a new fab in Oregon, and we are investing heavily in packaging operations in New Mexico. Given these new builds and investments, we must continue working to expand the talent pipelines needed to support these facilities as they come online.

That said, today we are already facing a worker shortage across the board—from the trade workers needed to build new fabs to the technicians needed to operate them, to the electrical engineers needed to develop new technologies and chip designs. Unfortunately, there is a declining number of American students choosing to pursue education in key STEM fields such as electrical engineering, computer science, chemistry, and materials engineering. These disciplines are critical to the semiconductor industry.

How Intel is Stepping Up

To help close this gap, Intel is committed to igniting interest in these areas. In 2022, we announced our $50 million investment toward jumpstarting the semiconductor talent pipeline in support of our new manufacturing facilities in Ohio. We also announced our $100 million partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to scale these programs across the United States, along with an innovative two-week accelerated learning program in partnership with Maricopa County Community College aimed at attracting new talent to the industry.

We designed these initiatives to increase access for traditionally underrepresented populations, including women and minority groups. We must attract students of all backgrounds to solve talent needs of the future., and it will take an all-hands approach to get us there. From elementary teachers sparking interest in STEM to education systems supplying curriculum materials to industry providing internship and mentorship opportunities, the public and private sector all have a role to play to create an inclusive and diverse tech workforce.

Importance of Public-Private Partnership

Despite Intel’s robust investment in workforce development, it will require significant public engagement to solve these critical workforce issues. It’s more important than ever for the semiconductor industry to be working together and in partnership with the U.S. government, research universities, and educators to support the development of the future workforce at every level of education—from helping train tomorrow’s world leading engineers to inspiring more K-12 students to engage in STEM.

State governments can help in many ways. They should invest in state universities and community colleges to help them build and shape STEM- and semiconductor-related programs. Additionally, they need to ensure their workforce development boards work hand-in-hand with the industry to support innovative programs to bring new and diverse workers to the industry.

The NSF is another government body that plays a critical role in the semiconductor space, and that role is now expanding to focus on workforce issues across the industry, including at the community college level. Intel is currently partnering with NSF on multiple nationwide research projects that not only help us create new technologies, but they also train workers and support internships that help us build relationships with critical talent. As we move forward, we expect NSF to coordinate with other government agencies—including the new National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC)—on workforce issues.

Looking Ahead

The semiconductor industry is projected to double over the next decade. It is imperative that we expand the chipmaking and technical workforce to ensure economic growth and innovation for years to come. At Intel, our purpose is to create world-changing technology that improves the life of every person on the planet. We’ll only be able to fulfill that purpose by closing the technology skills gap and creating a robust pipeline of talented and diverse technologists who can help us continue to grow and innovate.

By setting a collaborative table that welcomes stakeholders from across state governments and federal agencies, along with industry, academic, and community partners, we can work together to solve today’s critical workforce shortages, thereby ensuring America’s competitiveness going forward.