To solve the semiconductor shortage, companies now have to deal with a labor shortage...
We have extensively covered how major semiconductor companies have been responding to the global chip shortage over the last couple of years. One of the most notable companies to take action has been TSMC, who is in the process of building a $12 billion chip fab in Arizona, not far from where Intel is expanding their campus.
TSMC's project is racing to come online by 2024, but there remains a major obstacle for both companies: securing labor. "Simply finding enough workers to build the facilities has already proved a challenge," according to a new report from Nikkei.
Over 6,000 workers are currently on site trying to get the facility up and running by its targeted 2024 timeline, the report says. While it was tough to find construction workers, finding the skilled technicians necessary to work at a chip plant is proving even tougher.
Kweilin Waller, deputy human services director at the Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Board, commented: "You say 'semiconductor manufacturing' [to potential recruits], people look at you like you have two heads. It's just unfamiliar."
"I think those students that we are trying to recruit to ultimately become employees don't know what they don't know. So even before we give consideration to the seven semiconductor manufacturers that they could work with, they need to understand, 'What is a semiconductor technician?'" added Daniel Barajas, a careers director at the Maricopa County Community Colleges District.
Intel is trying to tackle the problem by creating a close relationship with The Schools of Engineering at ASU, which have about 27,000 students enrolled.
TSMC doesn't have the history that Intel does with the university to attract such talent as easily.
Kyle Squires, the school's dean, said: "Indeed, it's more of a challenge [for TSMC to attract students]. The informal networking [among students] starts to really grab on."
One associate professor at ASU said: "TSMC recruiters have been very heavily present on campus. TSMC is presently negotiating with the university for some extended collaborations, both in research and in workforce development, and broader training programs."
TSMC only had plans of hiring in the U.S. before sending employees to train in Taiwan, but now the company is considering hiring directly from Taiwan, the Nikkei report says. "TSMC is focused on hiring employees, including technicians, locally in the U.S. for our Arizona fab," a spokesperson said.
Jennifer Mellor, chief innovation officer at the Greater Phoenix Chamber, concluded: "I think TSMC is really trying to get their name known in the market, and they're actually doing a really good job of trying to connect with different education partners."