As more and more investments are being made to build up the semiconductor supply chain in the U.S., businesses are struggling to fill engineering vacancies. This could be a forbearance to the industry facing a talent shortage.
Growing global demand for chips has semiconductor companies scrambling to hire engineers and other skilled workers in the U.S. amid a nationwide labor shortage and international supply chain disruptions.
Job postings for electrical engineers in the U.S. semiconductor industry grew 78% from 2020 to 2021, more than three times faster than growth for electrical engineers overall, according to data from Emsi Burning Glass.
- The average salary for electrical engineers in the semiconductor industry is almost $17,000 above average for all electrical engineers, Emsi found.
The demand for highly skilled workers is projected to rise, but the semiconductor industry has not been the top destination for U.S. students graduating with math and science degrees.
“The total number of STEM-oriented students in this country is not big enough already, and the slice of that pie going into semiconductors is also not the most promising,” said Mung Chiang, Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University.
Competition from Big Tech companies also poses a threat, a semiconductor industry official said, “Everyone wants to be a software engineer — everyone wants to work for Google, Facebook or Apple. They’re not interested in the silicon side of things.”
What are employers and academics are doing to foster interest in electrical engineering jobs?
- Intel is investing $50 million over the next 10 years into higher education in Ohio through grant programs, including funding to create the Intel Semiconductor Education and Research Program for Ohio. Earlier this month, the company opened enrollment for a new, two-week accelerated development program with community colleges in Arizona to train students to become semiconductor technicians.
- Purdue University is launching new degree programs focused on the semiconductor industry this year. “Until about a year or two ago, most people wouldn’t appreciate what chips are,” Chiang said.”That’s starting to change as people realize, ‘Oh, I can’t buy a car because of chips.’ If you know how to work some part of that total end-to-end process, then you can have very good job prospects.”
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