December 8, 2022
Associate Manager, Data, Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
In August of 2022, the Biden Administration passed theCHIPS and Science Act, which was designed to bolster domestic semiconductor production and invest in STEM research and development. This Act has the potential to boost U.S. competitiveness and innovation, as long as our country and workforce are prepared to capitalize on these investments.
As part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Forward:The Future of Talent event, leaders in the STEM industries shared their insights on the impact of the CHIPS Act, and why investing in science and technology matters now more than ever.
The CHIPS Act Could Create Significant Worker Demand in the Near Future
Christy Pambianchi, Chief People Officer at Intel, believes the CHIPS Act presents great potential for workforce development and opportunities.
“We’ve seen that the CHIPS Act could create demand for up to 300,000 new workers over the next several years,” said Pambianchi. “I think it’s revitalizing an entire industry and a segment that has a whole ecosystem around it.”
John Smee, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Qualcomm, noted this opportunity will likely also come with significant worker demand — and the need to upskill accordingly.
“We’re really at an unprecedented time, in terms of the opportunity for the United States to regain its global leadership,” Smee explained. “When we look at the skills needed to really fulfill this semiconductor continued growth … [we need to look at] the full end-to-end pipeline, from STEM all the way through to universities.”
Mentorship and Collaboration Can Support STEM Education and Career Development
With this potential uptick in demand and associated upskilling, Pambianchi recommends the public and private sectors start nurturing talent early.
“We need to continue to encourage more and more students in America to pursue education and careers in STEM fields,” she emphasized. “This is definitely a challenge that ourselves as companies can’t really solve alone … [and] public-private partnerships can really drive a great difference in the way the CHIPS Act is constructed.”
“[It’s important to] make sure the students who are interested in science, engineering, and math in the United States have this path to go all the way with their education,” Smee shared. “That comes back to the support level [and] mentoring, making sure we’re leveraging engineers [who can] serve as role models.”
Wraparound Challenges Must Also Be Addressed to Support Our Future Workforce
Public and private sector leaders are increasingly supporting the STEM talent pipeline by addressing the wraparound challenges — including transportation, digital equity, and access to information — that prospective students may face.
“You really do see new programs being developed, recognizing the talent in a given state at a local level … that also eventually feeds the opportunity economically for those jobs over time,” said Smee. “These students [can now] have these opportunities, and then break through some of these typical barriers they would have faced earlier."
Pambianchi added that in addition to encouraging and supporting STEM-interested students, leaders can also nurture workers in declining industries or those who might benefit from a non-traditional vocational program.
“We’re partnering … to make sure we have food, line of sight to housing, transportation, daycare, healthcare, family support, and all the other things that make for a healthy workforce and local economy,” she said.
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