21 Aug 2023 -

Tech talent gap threatens U.S. economic growth

future electronics engineers

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), in partnership with Oxford Economics, has released a study finding the United States faces a significant shortage of technicians, computer scientists, and engineers, with a projected shortfall of 67,000 of these workers in the semiconductor industry by 2030 and a gap of 1.4 million such workers throughout the broader U.S. economy.

The report, titled “Chipping Away: Assessing and Addressing the Labor Market Gap Facing the U.S. Semiconductor Industry,” also makes a set of policy recommendations to help close the talent gap and complement the workforce development initiatives that are already being carried out by semiconductor companies across the U.S.

“Semiconductor workers are the driving force behind growth and innovation in the chip industry and throughout the U.S. economy,” said Matt Johnson, president and CEO of Silicon Labs and SIA board chair. “Effective government-industry collaboration can overcome the talent shortage facing our industry, build the strongest American tech workforce possible, and unleash the full potential of semiconductor innovation.”

The SIA projects the semiconductor industry’s workforce will grow by nearly 115,000 jobs by 2030, from approximately 345,000 jobs today to approximately 460,000 jobs by the end of the decade, representing 33% growth. Of these new jobs, we estimate roughly 67,000—or 58% of projected new jobs (and 80% of projected new technical jobs)—risk going unfilled at current degree completion rates. Of the unfilled jobs, 39% will be technicians, most of whom will have certificates or two-year degrees; 35% will be engineers with four-year degrees or computer scientists; and 26% will be engineers at the master’s or PhD level.

“Our analysis showcases the critical high-skilled roles across the semiconductor sector and the likely skill shortages the industry will face, if proactive talent development measures are not taken,” said Dan Martin, senior economist and lead researcher at Oxford Economics. “The CHIPS Act set the stage for U.S. long-run investment and increased global competitiveness in semiconductor design and production. Moving forward, tens of thousands of new post-secondary-trained workers will need to fill the roles created as the industry increases their productive capacity in the U.S.”

Of the total estimated semiconductor technical workforce gap of 67,000 by 2030, the study estimates approximately 39% of the gap (26,400 jobs) will be in technician occupations, 41% (27,300 jobs) in engineering occupations, and 20% (13,400 jobs) in computer science. Because semiconductors are foundational to virtually all critical technologies of today and the future, closing the talent gap in the chip industry will be central to the promotion of growth and innovation throughout the economy.

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