A college in Arizona developed a unique 10-day program to help people fill vacant jobs in the growing semiconductor industry.
Through the CHIPS Act, signed in 2022, $52 billion in funding has been allocated to revitalizing the semiconductor industry in the United States. The hope behind the funding is to bring more of this process, and the jobs that come with it, back into the country.
Big companies jumped at the opportunity. In 2021, Intel announced two new chip factories in the U.S.
Semiconductors, also known as microchips, run computations in many devices you use every day. This includes cars, smart devices, TVs, phones, electric scooters, and more.
Semiconductor companies plan to hire an estimated 20,000 people in the coming years in Arizona alone, according to statistics from Maricopa Community Colleges.
An accelerated 10-day program was created by Maricopa Community Colleges, which encompasses three separate college campuses, to help people succeed in filling those vacancies.
“We knew that 10 days was a magical number ... 10 days helped women be able to find childcare … and change their shifts if they needed to,” said Leah Palmer, the executive director for the Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute at Maricopa Community Colleges.
“It allowed people not only to change their shifts, but to keep their same jobs and be able to pay their rent and other things,” she said. She explained this helps alleviate some of the barriers to entry for starting a career or changing to a career in this field.
This program is mostly aimed at getting people into entry-level roles.
The median wage for a semiconductor processing technician is about $45,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries can range from around $33,000 to $72,000.
This is similar to the median income for workers with a high school degree and no college experience. That median income is around $47,000 as of 2021.
“Your entry level technicians … they don't have a degree, that's your base on your pyramid. That is the most critical and has the most turn and has the least amount of training and the least degrees, but it is the backs with which most things are built on,” Palmer said.
If you graduate the program, your tuition is paid for upon successful completion, Palmer said. She said the goal is to train the base and then add to that base with degrees and certificates along the way.
About 587 people have graduated from the program so far, which started in July 2022.
Palmer said the demand for the program is high, and they can only serve 600 students a year right now.
“There can only be 10 to 12 people in a class at a time because that's all you can teach in 10 days successfully and do the certifications,” she said.
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