Intel’s Relentless Pursuit of Next-Gen Workforce Pipeline

Intel’s education, research and workforce development initiatives poised to make an impact in the U.S. labor market.

Opinion

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By Christy Pambianchi, Keyvan Esfarjani and Dr. Ann B. Kelleher

There’s no bigger issue in the current tech landscape than the workforce shortage. Dive into any publication, report from a think tank or corporate blog and you’re likely to read about it. It’s a big deal. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates there are currently 66 workers for every 100 open jobs. These shortages have made the labor market for skilled manufacturing a critical business challenge. 

A recent study by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) found that incentivizing domestic semiconductor manufacturing could add 280,000 permanent jobs to the economy — and that’s just one industry. In the next several years, Intel plans to create 6,700 high-tech jobs to support expansions in OhioArizona and New Mexico. These jobs are on top of the thousands of jobs Intel is adding in Oregon and the tens of thousands of additional jobs expected across a broad ecosystem of suppliers and partners. The workforce shortage will only intensify as new semiconductor facilities begin operations. 

Intel has long recognized the value of a skilled workforce. As former Intel Chairman Andy Bryant often said, “The ingredient we start with is sand. Everything else is value added by people.”  

The U.S. needs the next generation of talent to drive innovation and national technology leadership. Intel has a long history of building world-class semiconductor manufacturing sites, both domestically and globally. And we know that a factory without talent is useless, which is why funding for STEM workforce development and occupational education is so crucial. 

The U.S. Congress and President Biden acknowledged this through the CHIPS and Science Act, which includes $13.2 billion in funding for research and development, education, and workforce training. The legislation also authorizes $81 billion for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research and STEM education to accelerate the development of critical technologies, including in the semiconductor industry.  

NSF and Intel’s Collaboration to Support Semiconductor Education and Research 

Earlier this year, Intel announced details of a $100 million investment to expand semiconductor research, education and workforce training opportunities across the nation. This investment consists of $50 million directly for Ohio higher education institutions and another $50 million from Intel for national opportunities over the next 10 years to conduct research and expand and diversify the workforce. This national funding will be matched by another $50 million from NSF for a combined total of $150 million for semiconductor manufacturing education and research.  

Intel and NSF are now launching the first phase of this national collaboration by providing $10 million in funding opportunities to support the development of a high-quality manufacturing workforce at all levels of production and innovation. A Dear Colleague Letter from NSF solicits proposals for new award opportunities for fiscal year 2023 in two programs: the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program and the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program. The collaboration supports STEM education at two-year colleges and four-year universities, inclusive of minority-serving institutions, and provides scholarships for students from historically underrepresented groups.  

With these investments, Intel aims to increase opportunities in higher education for women and people from underrepresented populations to help foster a diverse STEM workforce in the U.S. This aligns with our own RISE 2030 goals to increase the number of women in technical roles to 40%, to double the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership, and to ensure that inclusive leadership practices and accountability are embedded in our culture globally. 

What’s Next for US Innovation? 

Innovation and discovery never stop. Our nation needs a robust workforce pipeline with strong technical skills to be globally competitive and reduce the supply chain risks we experienced during the pandemic.  

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the cost of doing nothing is estimated at $1 trillion by 2030 if an estimated 2.1 million U.S. manufacturing jobs go unfilled. Along with industry, government must make education investments a priority to strengthen the workforce pipeline and ensure the U.S. retains its competitive edge. We look forward to continuing our initiatives with government, industry and academia to solve the high-tech workforce challenge.  

Christy Pambianchi is executive vice president and chief people officer at Intel Corporation.

Keyvan Esfarjani is executive vice president, chief global operations officer and general manager of Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Operations at Intel Corporation.

Dr. Ann B. Kelleher is executive vice president and general manager of Technology Development at Intel Corporation.