By Jamie Girard, Sr. Director, Public Policy, SEMI
A common concern of SEMI members is the persistent shortage of engineering graduates from U.S. colleges that undermines the innovation that is the lifeblood of advances in the semiconductor industry. Many SEMI member executives express deep concern over the lack of qualified engineers and technicians to fill the jobs they require in order to flourish.
For many years, SEMI has worked through the SEMI Foundation to promote high school STEM education and career opportunities with its High Tech U program, which has reached nearly 8,000 students since 2001. The success of High Tech U has been nothing short of a tremendous, with 70 percent of the program’s graduates – about 5,600 students – going on to earn a STEM degree in college.
With programs like High Tech U, we know that early engagement with students is key to putting them on a path to a STEM career. That’s why SEMI is proud to support H.R. 4023, the Developing Tomorrow’s Engineering and Technical Workforce Act. This bill was introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and is also sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) – co-chairs of the House Manufacturing Caucus. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) also supports the bill.
This legislation is important to SEMI members as it would award $20 million in federal grants to state and local educational agencies to support, develop, and implement formal and informal engineering education programs in elementary schools and secondary schools. The funding would give school districts much-needed help to increase the level of engineering education in their science curriculum.
The vitality of the U.S. innovation economy depends on a well-educated technical workforce, most notably in the case of the semiconductor industry the engineers, engineering technicians, and engineering technologists who are the heart of invention. To the great detriment of the industry, the gap is widening between what schools teach and the types of job skills now needed to drive the digital economy in the 21st century.
As we know from SEMI’s High Tech U, early engineering instruction both inside and outside of school can stimulate interest and improve learning in mathematics and science as well as improve understanding of engineering and technology. More importantly, early engineering education is vital preparation for the rigorous education, training, experience, and continuing learning required of a professional engineer.
SEMI believes that legislation like H.R. 4023 is a necessary step to alleviating the engineering talent shortage faced by our members and other high-tech sectors. For more information about the “Developing Tomorrow’s Engineering and Technical Workforce” Act and how you can support the bill, please contact Jamie Girard, Senior Director of Public Policy for SEMI, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 9, 2018