America Faces Significant Shortage of Tech Workers in Semiconductor Industry and Throughout U.S. Economy
An estimated 67,000 jobs for technicians, computer scientists, engineers in semiconductor industry—and 1.4 million such jobs across the U.S. economy—risk going unfilled by 2030, according to new SIA/Oxford Economics study
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), in partnership with Oxford Economics, released a study finding the United States faces a significant shortage of technicians, computer scientists, and engineers, with a projected shortfall of 67,000 of these workers in the semiconductor industry by 2030 and a gap of 1.4 million such workers throughout the broader U.S. economy. The report, titled “Chipping Away: Assessing and Addressing the Labor Market Gap Facing the U.S. Semiconductor Industry,” also makes a set of policy recommendations to help close the talent gap and complement the workforce development initiatives that are already being carried out by semiconductor companies across the U.S.
“Semiconductor workers are the driving force behind growth and innovation in the chip industry and throughout the U.S. economy,” said Matt Johnson, president and CEO of Silicon Labs and SIA board chair. “Effective government-industry collaboration can overcome the talent shortage facing our industry, build the strongest American tech workforce possible, and unleash the full potential of semiconductor innovation.”
With demand for semiconductors projected to increase significantly by 2030 and beyond, semiconductor companies are ramping up production and innovation to keep pace. Fortunately, thanks in large part to enactment of the landmark CHIPS and Science Act in 2022, a significant share of new chip manufacturing capacity and R&D is expected to be located in the U.S. As America’s semiconductor ecosystem expands in the years ahead, so too will its demand for semiconductor workers with the skills, training, and education needed in the highly innovative semiconductor industry.
In fact, the study projects the semiconductor industry’s workforce in the U.S. will grow by nearly 115,000 jobs by 2030, from approximately 345,000 jobs today to approximately 460,000 jobs by the end of the decade. As noted, an estimated 67,000 of these jobs risk going unfilled in the absence of action to close the gap.
To meet this challenge and address the talent gap, the SIA-Oxford Economics study presents three core recommendations to strengthen the U.S. technical workforce:
- Strengthen support for regional partnerships and programs aimed at growing the pipeline for skilled technicians for semiconductor manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing sectors.
- Grow the domestic STEM pipeline for engineers and computer scientists vital to the semiconductor industry and other sectors that are critical to the future economy.
- Retain and attract more international advanced degree students within the U.S. economy.
“Our analysis showcases the critical high-skilled roles across the semiconductor sector and the likely skill shortages the industry will face, if proactive talent development measures are not taken,” said Dan Martin, senior economist and lead researcher at Oxford Economics. “The CHIPS Act set the stage for U.S. long-run investment and increased global competitiveness in semiconductor design and production. Moving forward, tens of thousands of new post-secondary-trained workers will need to fill the roles created as the industry increases their productive capacity in the U.S.”
Of the total estimated semiconductor technical workforce gap of 67,000 by 2030, the study estimates approximately 39% of the gap (26,400 jobs) will be in technician occupations, 41% (27,300 jobs) in engineering occupations, and 20% (13,400 jobs) in computer science. Because semiconductors are foundational to virtually all critical technologies of today and the future, closing the talent gap in the chip industry will be central to the promotion of growth and innovation throughout the economy.
The U.S. semiconductor industry has, for decades, engaged in programs to recruit, train, and employ a diverse and skilled workforce. Across the nation, chip firms have longstanding and expanding partnerships with community colleges and technical schools, apprenticeship programs, universities and laboratories, and regional education networks. As the industry grows to meet demand alongside CHIPS investments, companies are growing their workforce development footprint. At the same time, the U.S. government must work with industry and academia to prioritize measures to address the skills gap facing the broader economy and the semiconductor industry.
“Along with making historic investments to reinvigorate domestic semiconductor production and innovation, the CHIPS and Science Act anticipated the need to strengthen the semiconductor workforce in America,” said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. “We look forward to working with government leaders to advance policies that build on our industry’s longstanding workforce development efforts, expand the pipeline of STEM graduates in America, and retain and attract more of the top engineering students from around the world.”