Noticed that you’re waiting longer than usual for your electronic parts these days? You’re not the only one.
The lack of chips is considerably noticeable, but it’s also drawn attention to how desperate we are for more electronics workers. There’s a lack of highly skilled people in the tech sector right now, and with the States aiming to increase its share of semiconductor production, we’ll need to fill out this workforce fast.
But the experts have a few ideas up their sleeves, here’s what they think:
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) released a report in 2021 that said for every US worker directly employed in the semiconductor industry in 2020, another 5.7 jobs were supported. This means that two years ago at least 1.85 million jobs were supported, either directly or indirectly, by the sector.
The 277,000 people that work specifically in the sector, in manufacturing, design, testing and research, are enabling around 300 downstream sectors, according to the report.
As the electronics industry is constantly changing and evolving it might be difficult for longer-serving employees to be equipped with currently relevant skills. The increasing automation of production lines, while efficient for manufacturers, requires highly skilled workers for operation and maintenance. Therefore, the upskilling and reskilling of employees is essential.
In another SIA report, in collaboration with Oxford Economics, the association said that only 20% of employees in the semiconductor industry actually attended university in 2019. To add to this, the higher-skilled members of the STEM sectors were more likely to go on to work for consultancy or investment firms. Giving the current workforce the option to upskill, and the potential extra wages that would come with it, might be an easy and enticing way to bulk up the thin-on-the-ground areas of employment.
Similarly, giving skilled workers the chance to re-specialize within their areas of expertise could ease the shortage relatively simply.
Joint workforce development may also be an avenue for investment. The US’s international partners could well help bridge the gap in the electronics industry, something that the 2019 European METIS initiative explored.
The electronics industry project, co-funded by the student exchange programme Erasmus+, looked to fund the education, professional mobility and recognition of electronics industry qualifications. The project aimed to encourage international students to study and work in the sector in different countries.
It’s probably no surprise that there are more men in electronics manufacturing, with the US Bureau of Statistics saying that women made up less than 30% of the sector in 2021. The majority of women were white, with approximately two in five women being Asian or Hispanic. Black or African American females were the most underrepresented at about 4%
Students are another source of untapped potential. Thankfully, the new semiconductor legislation that could soon be signed into law will increase funding for STEM students. The US Innovation and Competition Act, passed by the Senate last year, promised $5 billion in scholarships for STEM-specializing students, $8 billion for workforce programs and almost $10 billion for university technology centers and innovation institutes.
These employee groups might be ideal targets for recruitment and development in the industry, and since the CHIPS Act promises so many additional jobs in the next four years, employers better get on it!
But you don’t need to worry until then. Thankfully when it comes to electronic parts, Lantek always has your back. Talk to us today at email@example.com and we’ll help you find what you’re looking for.