Following a recent roundtable with member companies and key staff from 11 federal agencies, the SIA Workforce Committee has released a summary report discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the semiconductor workforce.
The report shines a spotlight on the need to address our broken high-skilled immigration system to meet near-term challenges and position the U.S. for success over the long term.
Other key challenges identified include the lack of alignment of the U.S. education system with the needs of high-tech industries; too few American students, especially women and underrepresented minorities, developing needed STEM skills; and a greying semiconductor workforce in which a relatively small number of top global firms compete for talent.
The report reiterates SIA’s longstanding position that the U.S. government should act swiftly to end discriminatory per-country green card caps and exempt advanced STEM degree graduates of U.S. universities from existing green card caps. With the majority of current graduate students at U.S. institutions in electrical engineering and computer sciences being foreign nationals, this is the highest priority opportunity for improving near-term workforce availability.
Other opportunities for addressing workforce challenges include increasing funding for semiconductor research & development to provide a demand signal to draw students into these fields; aligning more curricula with needed skills in high-tech industries; strengthening industry engagement with federal, state, and local workforce development boards, apprenticeship programs, and other mechanisms; and redoubling efforts to engage populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, including women, underrepresented minorities, and veterans of the armed forces.
SIA has provided this report to an interagency working group working to develop federal strategies to address workforce challenges, and will be following up independently on a number of the opportunities identified in the report.