CHIPS Act: How apprenticeships deliver for the semiconductor industry

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Semiconductor firms across the country are gearing up to apply for CHIPS funding — a flagship $280 billion dollar investment to advance the industry. But, to be eligible, they must demonstrate they have a robust workforce development plan.

What is the role of registered apprenticeships in this process, and what type of skills do semiconductor businesses need?

What is the CHIPS and Science Act?

The semiconductor industry is critical to many modern technologies, including smartphones, computers, and the internet. However, the United States has become increasingly reliant on foreign countries for semiconductor manufacturing, creating both economic and national security risks.

Passed in 2022, the CHIPS and Science Act aims to address this issue by providing incentives for companies to invest in semiconductor manufacturing and research in the United States. In total, the act provides $52.7 billion in federal funding, including funding for research and development, grants for building and modernizing semiconductor manufacturing facilities, and tax incentives for companies that invest in semiconductor production in the US.

Workforce development and apprenticeships in the CHIPs Act

In February 2023, the first funding opportunity coming out of the CHIPS Act was announced, focused on supporting semiconductor manufacturing through the construction or modernization of commercial fabrication facilities.

For companies seeking funds as part of this first funding opportunity, workforce development is a vital component, and companies seeking CHIPS Act funding will need to submit a workforce development plan.  The initial funding opportunity notes that “Applicants must commit to developing and maintaining a highly skilled, diverse workforce, including by outlining their plans to hire economically disadvantaged individuals.”

Supporting the  rising demand for talent to support semiconductor production - not just in advanced manufacturing, but in the wraparound skills important to the sector such as data analytics, software engineering, and project management- will require investments in workforce development and creation of new skills pathways, including apprenticeships.

Guidance from the Dept. of Commerce notes that “Applicants should strongly consider partnering with programs that train workers with the needed skills and then connect workers to good jobs, such as Registered Apprenticeships and other work-and-learn programs.”  Registered apprenticeships have proven to be successful in employee retention and engagement, and reach members of society that are often shut out from higher education.

What skills does the semiconductor industry need?

The semiconductor industry requires a diverse range of technical and non-technical skills, with some of the most critical being electrical engineering, computer science, materials science, data analysis, manufacturing, project management, problem-solving, and associated durable skills. However, a skills gap exists in the industry - with a report by the Semiconductor Industry Association stating 80% of surveyed companies reported a skills gap in their workforce, and this is expected to worsen as the industry grows.

The semiconductor industry also faces significant diversity challenges, with underrepresentation of women and minorities in its workforce. According to a report by the Semiconductor Industry Association, women make up only 25% of the industry's workforce, while Hispanic and African American employees represent only 7% and 4% respectively. Additionally, the report found that women and minorities are underrepresented in leadership positions within the industry.

It’s therefore essential for the industry to focus on developing the skills of its current workforce and attracting new, diverse talent to the field to meet the growing demand for skilled workers, which is a key focus of the CHIPs Act.

Gain the apprenticeship advantage with Multiverse

At Multiverse, we're closing the gap between education and employability by creating new pathways for skills-based training using the power of apprenticeships.

We work with over 500 companies, helping them address the business challenges that traditional training and hiring methods won’t solve. Our approach is simple — we source, train, and retain exceptional under-represented talent through apprenticeships.

We offer our programs to a diverse pool of young adults and those looking to reskill. Apprentices benefit from personalized coaching, applied learning, and a community of social, networking and leadership opportunities.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our apprenticeships can support the workforce development components for your CHIPS Act funding proposal.

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