Arnold Leads Effort to Develop Plan to Double FL Semiconductor Workforce

Dr. David Arnold

ECE researcher Dr. David Arnold and Co-PI Dr. Jack Judy are leading a project funded by the Florida Department of Education aimed at developing a pre-baccalaureate workforce strategic plan to support the growing semiconductor industry in the State of Florida. The $250k project, “Defining Pre-Baccalaureate Semiconductor Workforce Needs for the State of Florida” is focused on collecting data from industry partners to determine the best path forward as Florida seeks to strengthen its position as a national leader in the semiconductor manufacturing space. 

Dr. Jack Judy

The Rationale

In light of the CHIPS Act and other national efforts, the semiconductor industry estimates a need to double the domestic semiconductor workforce. Florida currently ranks 5th in the nation with an estimated semiconductor workforce of 13,000 jobs. In order to maintain a leadership position in this important industry, the State of Florida has initiated a multi-pronged strategy to grow its semiconductor industry and its workforce capacity.

To grow the Florida semiconductor industry, the State hopes to drastically expand the semiconductor workforce pipeline across all education levels.

“We anticipate a doubling of the state’s workforce, meaning 13,000 new semiconductor jobs. In a typical semiconductor manufacturing setting, there are twice as many jobs for workers with pre-baccalaureate credentials compared to bachelors/ masters/doctoral degree holders. With this in mind, we are laser-focused on ensuring adequate supply and appropriate training of trades, vocational, and technical workforce.”
–Dr. David Arnold

The semiconductor industry offers opportunities and premium wages across the educational spectrum. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, semiconductor workers with some college training or an associate’s degree earn 65% higher wages compared to other industries.

The Project

The project focuses on collecting data from industry partners on position descriptions (job duties, educational requirements, minimum qualifications, preferred qualifications), and estimated need (number of positions) for each position description. In tandem, an assessment will be made of the scope and capacity of all semiconductor workforce development programs (degree programs, certificates, and credential programs) offered by all State Colleges and Technical Colleges/Centers. Specific data collection activities may include database queries, document collection, formal surveys, focus groups, round table discussions, and workshops. The resulting data will be analyzed to identify and enumerate the undersupply or oversupply of workforce at various educational attainment levels. From this analysis, specific recommendations will be made to workforce training entities in order tailor and optimize the worker pipeline for both short-term and long-term industry needs.

The project represents an important step towards preparing the state to invigorate and expand its semiconductor workforce.