How to Build a New Workforce in the Semiconductor Industry

The tech industry is known for evolving rapidly and creating new markets for emerging skills. The semiconductor market is a prime example of a field that’s evolving so quickly that it’s hard for the workforce to keep up. Hiring managers in this field are facing the unique challenge of finding the best candidates for highly-specialized roles that may not have existed just a few years ago. By taking an agile approach to recruiting and training semiconductor professionals, you can quickly establish and scale a talented team that’s able to take on the unknown.

Semiconductors as an Emerging Industry

Semiconductors and chips are essential elements in many electronic devices, allowing their circuits to regulate electricity so they can function properly. As more people incorporate electronic devices into their daily life, demand has rapidly increased for semiconductors and chips. So rapid, that production can’t keep up.

To combat the global semiconductor shortage, the United States government has launched a massive investment in semiconductor research and manufacturing. This $280 billion spending plan has the potential to create and grow millions of jobs related to semiconductors and turn the U.S. into a major player in the global semiconductor market.

RELATED: Why the U.S. Is Investing in Chips and Semiconductors

Talent Shortage for Semiconductor Production

A cash infusion from the government can help reduce the chip shortage by starting new facilities and scaling existing operations. However, companies that produce semiconductors may not have a large enough pool of skilled workers to staff their operations.

One of the main reasons for this potential worker shortage is how quickly the semiconductor industry is growing. It takes time to provide people with the education and training they need to fill specialized roles in the semiconductor industry, especially because these roles often require extensive knowledge of science, math, and technology.

Hiring people for technical positions is challenging when these roles are completely new. Many semiconductor professionals will be industry pioneers who are among the first people to ever do the job. Because the semiconductor industry is relatively niche, people may not even know about all the opportunities in this field.

Strategies for Creating a New Semiconductor Workforce

When facing a potential talent shortage, it’s important for company leaders and hiring managers to be proactive in building a skilled team. When creating a new workforce for a field that’s still evolving, there are a few strategies you can use to stay ahead of the curve.

Establish Forward-Thinking Recruitment Practices

Your hiring strategy can make a massive impact on your ability to recruit and retain talented professionals in the semiconductor industry. Because the demand for semiconductor professionals is so high, be prepared to change your idea of the ideal candidate. Since it’s a new industry, you’ll be hard-pressed to find candidates with years of experience producing semiconductors. Instead, look for qualifications that support their ability to learn and adapt to change.

When trying to quickly scale a skilled workforce, it may be helpful to collaborate with a talent solutions company that can provide you with access to a large pool of talented candidates. Look for talent solution partners who understand the unique needs of the semiconductor industry and are willing to create new, innovative methods for finding the right talent. By using innovative recruiting methods, you can establish a talent pipeline that works with you as the semiconductor industry expands.

Focus on Transferrable Skills

As you grow your team, look for transferable skills that lend themselves to semiconductor production. Instead of requiring candidates to have niche experience, consider what knowledge and abilities they could apply to their new position. Even if a candidate doesn’t have expertise working with semiconductors, the right transferable skills can help them pick up on niche semiconductor knowledge more quickly.

Some examples of transferable skills to look for may include:

  • Electrical engineering
  • Data analysis
  • Research
  • Equipment operation
  • Critical thinking

When hiring outside candidates, look for talent in other high-growth tech fields such as defense, aerospace, or electrical engineering. Even if these specialties don’t relate specifically to semiconductors, you can find candidates who have experience working in a quickly-evolving role. This can make it easier to upskill and train your team in the long term.

Along with looking for transferrable skills in new team members, use them to your advantage when reskilling current team members. Assess which people on your team currently have experience in other technical fields that may give them an edge when working with semiconductors.

Establish Ongoing Training

Providing your team with sufficient support is essential for creating a new workforce in the semiconductor field. Even after you find highly skilled candidates, it’s important to provide them with the resources they need to keep up in a rapidly developing market. Make sure that your team is up-to-date on the latest research in the field, and bring in experts to educate them on best practices and industry updates.

Along with internal training opportunities, consider incentivizing employees to pursue additional education and professional development. Universities across the US are beginning to launch research initiatives and degree programs specifically designed to support the semiconductor sector. By partnering with universities or offering education stipends, you can empower your team to gain specialized knowledge in the semiconductor industry as the field evolves.

Seek Feedback from Team Members

As you onboard new team members and reskill existing ones, regularly seek feedback about their roles. Many of these positions may be completely new, so their input can help shape the nature of the role. Be open to adjusting the scope of different positions on your team as your employees gain practical experience working with semiconductors. This could include combining certain jobs, breaking up a role into multiple positions, or adjusting workflows to be more efficient. Ask about what types of knowledge, resources, and tools could make their jobs easier.

Get Started on Building a Brand-New Workforce Today

Managing a workforce in an emerging field isn’t an easy task, but an innovative mindset can help you develop a team that’s up for the challenge. Investing in research, focusing on continuing education, and working with the right talent solutions partner can set you up for success and help you build a cutting-edge team. With a bit of planning and preparation today, you can turn your staff into top experts in the semiconductor field.

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