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Revitalising America’s Semiconductor Industry

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In the last 2023, the semiconductor industry’s importance to the world continues to grow as chips become an even greater presence in the essential technologies of today—and give rise to tomorrow’s transformative technologies. More than 1 trillion semiconductors were sold globally last year.

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As chip demand rises, countries worldwide have ramped up government investments to lure semiconductor production and innovation to their shores. In 2022, the U.S. government stepped up to meet this challenge, enacting the landmark CHIPS and Science Act to provide needed semiconductor research investments and manufacturing incentives.

These projects will create tens of thousands of direct jobs in the semiconductor ecosystem and support hundreds of thousands of additional jobs throughout the U.S. economy.

Further, this year, the U.S. is embarking on developing semiconductors again. The Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, is leading efforts to transform the semiconductor industry in the United States. She introduced the HBCU CHIPS Network, a collaborative initiative between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the Georgia Institute of Technology. This partnership aims to strengthen the semiconductor workforce by combining resources and promoting diversity, essential for powering sectors like consumer electronics, automobiles, data centres, critical infrastructure, and military systems.

The semiconductor industry in the United States has long been a significant player in the global market, although its share has declined from 37% to approximately 12% over the past three decades. Despite this decrease, the industry remains a critical component of the global supply chain for electronic components.

The launch of the HBCU CHIPS Network is a significant development that aligns with President Biden’s broader efforts to revitalise the semiconductor industry in the United States. The enactment of the CHIPS and Science Act underscores the government’s commitment to fostering innovation and creating high-quality jobs in this vital sector.

The CHIPS for America programme, administered by the Commerce Department as part of this initiative, requires funding recipients to demonstrate how their projects will enhance economic security while prioritising investments in workers and communities, including opportunities for small businesses and disadvantaged communities.

Secretary Raimondo has emphasised the urgent need to triple the number of graduates in semiconductor-related fields, given the industry’s ongoing labour shortage. Projections suggest that by 2030, there could be a shortage of 300,000 engineers and 90,000 technical workers, highlighting the critical importance of initiatives such as the HBCU CHIPS Network.

The United States is home to 101 accredited public and private HBCUs, which collectively award 24% of all bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The HBCU CHIPS Network is poised to provide significant opportunities to historically underserved students and communities while also diversifying the research institutions and student populations they serve.

Additionally, Secretary Raimondo’s efforts to address the talent gap in the semiconductor industry extend beyond the borders of the United States. She is scheduled to travel to Costa Rica next month to strengthen bilateral commercial and investment ties between the United States and Costa Rica.

During her visit, Secretary Raimondo will advocate for the geographical diversification of the semiconductor ecosystem to like-minded nations, emphasising the importance of diverse and resilient supply chains. She will meet with Costa Rican government officials and semiconductor industry representatives to advance this agenda and highlight the strong commercial partnership between the two countries.

Secretary Raimondo’s initiatives, domestically through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) CHIPS Network and internationally with her upcoming visit to Costa Rica, exemplify her steadfast commitment to advancing the semiconductor industry, fostering innovation, and promoting economic inclusion. These efforts perfectly align with President Biden’s broader agenda of revitalising America’s economy, investing in critical industries, and securing the nation’s competitive edge in the rapidly evolving global technology landscape.


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