Blog 6: Where do we go from here


Where Do We Go From Here?

Guidance and Next Steps 

Key points of Blog 6

  • A review of the previous 5 blog posts
  • Introduction of the SRC Workforce Advisory Board  
  • Notice of upcoming crowdfunding scholarship opportunity!

cover image with words Where Will You Go Tomorrow? Entering the Semiconductor Industry: Fulfillment Beyond a Paycheck

Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.     Sam Levenson

Over the course of the previous five entries of the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Workforce Development Blog Series, we explored the dynamic landscape of the semiconductor industry. Positioned at the forefront of technological innovation, this industry needs a diverse STEM talent pool encompassing various degrees.

According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the semiconductor industry’s workforce will grow by nearly 115,000 jobs by 2030. This growth translates to a 33% increase, taking the current employment figure of approximately 345,000 jobs to an estimated 460,000 jobs by the end of the decade. This need has also been embraced by the authors of the Microelectronics and Advanced Packaging Technologies (MAPT) Roadmap, the first detailed roadmap in support of the CHIPS and Science Act. They list workforce development as the critical enabler, the linchpin to getting the whole semiconductor industry moving forward. 

a small graphic representing a clock

The implications are clear: we require a 33% surge in talent within the next six years. But this talent gap cannot be addressed so rapidly. A rigorous STEM education takes time; considering a typical educational timeline of 4 years for college, plus 2-4 years for graduate school, we find ourselves in the range of 6-8 years. If we factor in high school, the total duration extends to 10-12 years. Time is of the essence, and the clock is ticking. The urgency to address this demand for skilled professionals is evident, requiring proactive and strategic measures to meet the imminent workforce needs of the semiconductor industry.

Our journey has revealed the challenges and opportunities within workforce development in the semiconductor sector, highlighting the vital need for scalable talent development mechanisms and continued collaborative efforts.

One of the most reliable and consistent solutions for developing students with industry-relevant experience is Semiconductor Research Corporation. This is the topic of our second blog post. Established by the semiconductor industry, SRC operates as a "Talent Factory" by funneling graduate students through research that is sponsored by and partnered with experts across the industry. Collaborating with entities such as DARPA, NSF, and NIST, SRC's programs have successfully prepared approximately 20% of semiconductor Ph.D. candidates in the United States. Importantly, SRC can easily scale the number of graduate students produced annually by 3-5X with additional funding without compromising quality.

SRC's well-trained graduates bring great value across many segments of the industry. While SRC has a proven track record of preparing Ph.D. graduates with real-world semiconductor experience, our commitment to broadening participation means that we're also intent on nurturing those seeking undergraduate and Master's degrees. In fact, as of the time of publication, there are currently 233 undergraduate students participating on SRC research projects, a two-fold increase from 2022. We're also excited to join forces with the U.S. National Science Foundation to jointly sponsor the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. These grants offer undergraduates a unique opportunity to envision themselves pursuing advanced degrees and furthering their careers in the semiconductor industry through hands-on research experience. In 2024 and beyond, we remain committed to sustaining and strengthening the talent pipeline that sustains the semiconductor industry through research projects, NSF REU grants, scholarships, and more.  

Our third blog, "Forging Ahead," examined three crucial focal points of the MAPT Roadmap: talent supply/demand modeling, effective engagement models, and cultivating enthusiasm for the industry. Quantitative modeling was identified as a key tool for anticipating talent needs, and aligning academic milestones with required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) was also deemed essential. In "Shaping Tomorrow's Innovators," we explored strategies to engage diverse talent and address the challenges at the intersection of industry and academia. Finally, "Winning the Hearts and Minds of Semiconductor Innovators" encouraged undergraduates to explore the semiconductor industry, showcasing the potential for fulfilling careers and offering practical tips.

So, where do we go from here?

a small graphic representing direction signs

The Workforce Development chapter of the MAPT Roadmap presents a comprehensive plan to address the challenges faced by the semiconductor industry. This plan focuses on talent supply/demand modeling, effective engagement models, and inspiring individuals interested in semiconductor careers. It offers a strategic framework to quantify workforce needs, develop optimal engagement strategies, and inspire students, veterans, and displaced workers to pursue semiconductor careers.

In response to the identified challenge, we recognized the imperative for a strategic initiative. Leveraging our expertise in fostering collaboration and bringing people together, we promptly established the SRC Workforce Advisory Board (WAB). The mission of the WAB, with members drawn from sectors across the industry, is to develop mechanisms for a sustainable/scalable workforce pipeline from universities to SRC members. The SRC WAB includes SRC member company scientists and engineers as well as HR/recruiting reps, along with experts from academia, industry, government agencies, and non-profits. This proactive measure is designed for immediate action, with the goal of driving tangible progress in overcoming the mentioned challenge through our adept collaborative approach. The MAPT Workforce Development chapter serves as a guiding light for the WAB, providing crucial context for its mission to establish a sustainable and scalable workforce pipeline. The need for a skilled workforce, as emphasized in the MAPT chapter, reinforces the significance of the WAB's efforts.

As the WAB works to bridge the gap between universities and industry companies, the MAPT workforce development strategies become invaluable. These strategies include both quantifying workforce needs and developing optimal engagement models. Furthermore, it underscores the importance of inspiring individuals to pursue careers in the semiconductor sector. To realize this inspiration, the WAB envisions incorporating scholarship programs, internship opportunities, semiconductor bootcamps for undergraduates, and seminars aimed at reinforcing and igniting commitment to the industry. Once again, this clock is ticking.

Even while SRC prepares to participate in CHIPs initiatives, we recognize that government funding often entails delays and firmly believe that actions speak louder than words. As such, we are launching a crowdfunding initiative to sponsor the “SRC Microelectronic and Advanced Packaging Technologies (MAPT) Scholarship” in January 2024. This program aims to provide critical support to undergraduate students pursuing STEM degrees, with a specific focus on fields related to semiconductor technology. Through this program, eligible students will have the chance to be granted scholarships of $2,000 per year for two years. Scholarships are aimed at alleviating financial constraints and nurturing their educational and career ambitions within the semiconductor industry. In addition, MAPT Scholars will unlock access to an inspiring community of industry experts, accomplished academics, and thriving SRC Research Scholars that will help expand their network and broaden their opportunities.  

The primary purpose of these scholarships is to inspire and empower the next generation of engineers who are passionate about semiconductor technology. To be eligible, recipients must major in engineering, maintain strong academic performance, and actively engage in projects and coursework relevant to the semiconductor industry. By investing in these students, the program contributes directly to the growth, sustainability, and technological advancements of the semiconductor industry, reinforcing its position as a global leader in innovation and progress.

Time is of the essence, and as we embark on this journey together, we are confident that through collaboration, innovation, and dedication which are described in the previous blogs in the series, we can ensure a thriving and sustainable future for the semiconductor workforce. The crowdfunding campaign will launch in early 2024 – we eagerly anticipate your participation! Together we can meet the challenges of tomorrow's semiconductor industry workforce.

The time to act is now.

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