Insights for technology professionals

Planning for the Semiconductor Workforce of the Future

Posted on July 29, 2020 by Jack Trompert


In 2020, hiring managers at tech companies face significant shortages of the talent they need to scale next-generation technology. As competition for the best skilled workers heats up in most chip industries, it’s important for engineering leaders to understand the major challenges for the future of the industry, and consider their priorities for workforce planning and development.

Let’s start with a breakdown of challenges facing the engineering workforce today:

Shortage of qualified engineers

According to a Deloitte-SEMI survey, 85 percent of chip vendors need new kinds of talent to keep pace with operations powered by automated systems, big data, and machine learning. But not enough engineers can learn at the rate the industry requires. Aspiring engineering students limited learning options to gain new technical skills, as well as a significant financial burden to pay for education. Some organizations have tried to reskill or retrain workers to use artificial intelligence (AI), to varying degrees of success; some engineers have expressed a lack of institutional support as a roadblock to adoption. 

New innovation and technology

The rising demand for skill in developing AI and deep learning has created an opportunity for higher education to add new disciplines in the STEM curriculum. But building effective academic programs isn’t easy, especially for complicated subjects such as deep neural networks. As a result, researchers and scientists may not have a way to replicate coursework for other applications or convince department heads to fund programs.

Increasing competition for skills

While semiconductors have been the backbone of the technology industry, engineers may seek out other tech powerhouses as career pursuits instead. In fact, 59 percent of respondents said that the semiconductor industry’s career path isn’t as attractive as that of other tech industries. With the extraordinary growth of major tech players like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple, the competition for talent is much fiercer against global brands with higher appeal. 

Create your future workplace today

All of this means that finding new talent is a huge undertaking for semiconductor companies. So, what can organizations do to access top candidates and help bridge the workforce gap? Let’s explore key strategies to plan for the future of your workforce:

Expand company resources

A good recruiting and hiring strategy is necessary but not sufficient. To continuously attract and retain engineers, managers need to give them career guidance, nurture their ambitions, and showcase different opportunities available in the world of semiconductors.

Make sure you have mentorship programs in place to encourage, teach, and guide engineers in your organization. Providing access to professional engineering associations can also help advance your employees’ careers and boost your company’s reputation. Additionally, as engineers face time-to-market challenges and greater technology adoption, consider expanding and upgrading your technology stack. When there’s never been more competition for talent, it’s essential to use every asset at your disposal.

Collaborate with academic institutions

Wise leaders recognize that nurturing the workforce requires an “all hands on deck” approach. Initiatives like the Endless Frontier Act have helped increase education funding. Community colleges are also offering affordable coursework and certifications for technical professions. Nonprofit organizations like GirlsWhoCode ignite early interest in STEM education to help make an impact at scale.  

As an engineering leader, collaborating with and advocating for these organizations can help bridge the gap between academia and the professional environment. Proactive ways to help include:

  • Offering scholarships, internships or fellowship programs
  • Presenting at guest lectures or learning seminars 
  • Forming educational partnerships for greater research and development efforts

Diversify recruiting and hiring efforts

Data from the National Science Board makes it clear that the industry has fallen short in bringing more talented women and diverse professionals into the STEM workforce. Leaders need to step up their recruiting and hiring efforts toward under-represented groups to mirror the nation’s demographic trends. You can work to attract more diverse candidates to your STEM organization by:

  • Implementing a dedicated coaching or mentoring program for minorities
  • Removing unconscious or implicit bias from recruiting processes
  • Evaluating employee benefits to accommodate more diverse employees

For more great resources and talent insight, subscribe to our blog.

Jack Trompert

In 2010, Jack and Janet Trompert started Talent 101 with a clear new vision on how to deliver talent to the marketplace. To work at Talent 101 is to be a part of something creative and big. From our modest roots as an ambitious startup, to becoming a global workforce solution provider to the world’s most recognized semiconductor companies, our growth and momentum owes a lot to our strong company culture of customer service, can do attitude, sense of urgency and always focus on the client and talent.