U.S. Semiconductor Boom Faces a Worker Shortage

She said that the industry had faced staffing challenges for years, and that she was concerned about the number of “available and talented skilled workers” who could fill all of the new Intel positions.

“I am confident,” she said. “But am I fully certain, 100 percent? No.”

Micron, which pledged as much as $100 billion over the next two decades or more to build a huge chip factory complex in New York, has also deployed new work force programs, including ones that train veterans and teach middle and high school students about STEM careers through “chip camps.”

Bo Machayo, the director of U.S. federal affairs at Micron, said the company anticipated needing roughly 9,000 employees after its full build-out in the region.

“We understand that it’s a challenge, but we also look at it as an opportunity,” he said.

To be considered for the federal subsidies, manufacturers must submit applications to the Commerce Department that include detailed plans about how they will recruit and retain workers. Firms requesting more than $150 million are expected to provide affordable, high-quality child care.

“We don’t think that a company can just post a bunch of jobs online and hope that the right work force shows up,” said Kevin Gallagher, a senior adviser to the commerce secretary.

The lack of interest in the industry has been evident at academic institutions. Karl Hirschman, the director of microelectronic engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology, said the university was “nowhere close” to the maximum enrollment for its microelectronic engineering degree program, which sets up students for semiconductor-related careers. Enrollment averages about 20 new undergraduates each year, compared with more than 200 for the university’s mechanical engineering program.

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