Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich. – joined by Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., Mike Waltz, R-Fl., and Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio – introduced legislation on June 29 to address the nation’s semiconductor shortage by attempting to grow the sector’s workforce.
The Creating Helpful Initiatives to Produce Personnel in Needed Growth Industries (CHIPPING IN) Act of 2022 would support the growth, retention, and development of a diverse, flexible, and sustainable chips workforce that meets the evolving needs of the microelectronics industry, academia, and government, the sponsors said.
“We invented and innovated the semiconductor chip in the United States but are currently only manufacturing 12% of the global supply,” said Rep. Stevens in a press release. “Solving the semiconductor chips shortage and investing in the semiconductor workforce is essential to our country’s success as we re-shore American manufacturing and lead the world in innovation.”
According to Rep. Stevens, the CHIPPING IN Act will help the U.S. develop a diverse and sustainable semiconductor workforce that meets the evolving needs of universities, community colleges, national laboratories, and companies across the microelectronics supply chain.
“The United States, and particularly my home state of Ohio, is at a critical point to re-shore microelectronics manufacturing,” said Rep. Gonzalez. “It is important to ensure that the next generation of workers are equipped with the skills needed to compete.”
The measure takes a three-pronged approach to “raising awareness, increasing opportunities for students to pursue degrees at all levels, and providing hands-on opportunities in microelectronics for students who will be the future of this growing and critical workforce,” Rep. Stevens said.
First, the bill would create National Science Foundation awards for higher education institutions, non-profit organizations, and consortia to advance innovative approaches to developing, improving, and expanding evidence-based microelectronics education and workforce development activities.
Second, the bill would establish traineeship programs to fund research for students who pursue microelectronics secondary degrees. The program prioritizes proposals led by Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges or Universities, or Minority Serving Institutions to increase the recruitment of students from historically underrepresented groups.
Lastly, the bill would create a national network for microelectronic education. This national network of partnerships for microelectronics ensures organizations coordinate activities, best practice sharing, and access to facilities across the partnerships.
“Everything we touch from our phones to our cars, TVs, navigation systems, and so much more need microelectronics to function,” said Rep. Waltz. “But right now, the United States does not have the available, capable workforce here at home to manufacture the microelectronics that Americans rely on. Instead, we have almost completely outsourced our semiconductor manufacturing to other countries over the last few decades, including our greatest adversary today, China. To remain competitive on the global stage, we must meet the demands of this growing industry by investing in a technical workforce at our colleges and universities. STEM education is the future.”
The COMPETES Act – which would provide $52 billion of Federal funding to help rebuild the U.S. semiconductor sector – currently remains the subject of House-Senate conference committee negotiations.