Saturday, July 13, 2024

American Semiconductor Industry Requires Additional Overseas Workers

U.S. Faces Skilled Worker Shortage in Semiconductor Industry

The U.S. semiconductor industry is facing a critical shortage of skilled workers, posing a challenge to the country’s efforts to revitalize domestic chip manufacturing. Despite investing billions of dollars to reduce reliance on Asian plants, the U.S. production capacity is hitting a ceiling without a new wave of skilled chip fabricators.

According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, there will be a shortfall of 67,000 skilled workers in the industry by the end of the decade. The current H-1B visa program, which is the primary source of skilled workers, is not providing enough visas each year to meet the demand. Additionally, country-by-country limits on applications are excluding many talented individuals from countries like India, a major source of high-skilled workers.

In response to the shortage, high-tech companies are partnering with educational institutions to fund training programs related to semiconductor manufacturing. However, these long-term strategies are not sufficient to address the immediate need for skilled workers, leading some U.S. firms to outsource jobs. Moreover, a significant number of high-tech engineers earning advanced degrees in the U.S. are not staying in the country, further exacerbating the shortage.

To mitigate the issue, the Economic Innovation Group has proposed the creation of a “chipmaker’s visa” that would auction off visas for high-tech workers. This visa would allow recipients to change jobs within the industry, gain an expedited path to obtaining a green card after five years, and fund scholarships and development programs for Americans with proceeds from the auctions.

The passage of the Chips and Science Act in 2020, which has allocated more than $50 billion to triple domestic chip manufacturing capacity by 2030, underscores the importance of addressing the skilled worker shortage. Failure to do so could hinder the industry’s growth and the country’s efforts to reduce dependence on foreign chip production.

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