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Report: Critical talent shortage for over 70,000 semiconductor manufacturing jobs

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New research from Eightfold AI shows there will be a critical talent shortage to fill the expected 70,000+ new jobs for highly skilled people that semiconductor fabrication plants are expected to create. The reality is that the U.S. workforce lacks individuals who have the right skillsets to manage the potential reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing for the most critical applications, such as automotive or defense.

The global chip shortage has spurred interest in ending U.S. dependence on foreign chipmakers. Despite broad agreement that the U.S. needs to re-shore manufacturing for critical applications by building new semiconductor fabrication plants (or “fabs”), this talent shortage is a vital (and arguably overlooked) issue that needs to be addressed.

To meet the capacity needs for only the critical semiconductor applications, the U.S. needs to add about 5.5% of the global production. This would mean about 18 to 20 fabs, and about 70,000 to 90,000 total fabs jobs. Rising to meet this opportunity would require the U.S. to increase its current workforce by about 50%. However, this current shortage of skilled staff threatens the ability of the U.S. to re-shore sufficient semiconductor manufacturing.

As it stands, three broad talent groups are needed to run a fabrication plant, including production engineering, logistics and support, and production operations. However, the skills of today likely won’t be the skillsets that will be required a decade from now due to the rapid adoption of automation, data analytics, and a need for greater agility. These innovations are increasing the need for new skills and capabilities.

There are two solutions to help overcome these talent challenges: upskill or reskill the current workforce and hire for potential.

Upskilling or reskilling helps to bridge the gap between skills that are declining in importance and those that are rising. The report helps to identify those that are in decline and the skills that are growing in importance. At the same time, it identifies skills adjacency, showing what staff could be retrained for roles expected to see greater demand. Upskilling helps transition those declining roles into alternate career paths. By examining adjacent skills and seeing how people can be upskilled and reskilled into new but similar roles, we can enable hiring for potential. This results in a much larger talent pool.

Read the full report from Eightfold AI.

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