Empowering Workforce Development: SWE’s Crucial Role in Fulfilling the CHIPS Act

By promoting equal opportunities and fostering an environment where women can thrive, we contribute directly to the objectives of the CHIPS Act, ensuring a more robust and dynamic semiconductor workforce.

An essential part of advancing SWE’s mission are our ongoing advocacy efforts at both the U.S. national and state levels. Accordingly, the Society celebrated President Joe Biden’s signing of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 on Aug. 9 of last year. The legislation authorized $280 billion to bolster innovation and tech hubs in America, including support for basic research and strengthening the manufacturing of semiconductor chips. Lawmakers deemed it a historic investment in technology and job creation.

The CHIPS Act aims to further develop and grow the domestic semiconductor manufacturing sector, recognizing its pivotal role in driving innovation and powering a vast range of cutting-edge technologies. With the semiconductor industry at the core of this transformative digital age, it’s critical that the United States also invest in a skilled workforce to effectively compete in the global arena. Therein lies a formidable challenge for the U.S. For example, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company recently announced that production at its Arizona fab would be pushed to 2025 because of a shortage of skilled workers.

The CHIPS Act serves as a call to action for all stakeholders to invest in the future of semiconductor manufacturing. At SWE, we continue to foster the next generation of STEM leaders and, perhaps more importantly, understand that workforce development is not just about quantity, but also about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). ­These elements are indispensable for innovation and progress.

SWE has been at the forefront of promoting gender diversity and inclusivity in the engineering workforce for almost 75 years. This commitment to empowering women in engineering and technology is deeply aligned with the objectives of the CHIPS Act. With women significantly underrepresented in STEM fields, including engineering and computer science, we believe that by bridging this gender gap and fostering an inclusive environment, we can unlock the untapped potential of countless talented women who will contribute significantly to the growth of the semiconductor industry.

By promoting equal opportunities and fostering an environment where women can thrive, we contribute directly to the objectives of the CHIPS Act, ensuring a more robust and dynamic semiconductor workforce.

To ensure the highest levels of innovation, workforce development requires a comprehensive approach that not only addresses gender diversity, but also fosters an inclusive environment for individuals from all backgrounds and experiences.

SWE believes that diversity is a driving force behind innovation, as diverse perspectives fuel creativity and result in groundbreaking solutions to complex challenges. By promoting a diverse workforce, we can ensure that the semiconductor industry remains resilient and adaptive to the evolving needs of the global market.

Now more than ever, it is clear that SWE’s initiatives, including our mentorship programs, scholarships, professional development opportunities (such as our Advance Learning Center, eXXec, and ALWE), and returnship programs, are instrumental in preparing and enabling women to be at the vanguard of innovation in the semiconductor industry.

Additionally, our global network of engaged and accomplished engineers serves as an inspiration to countless aspiring young women, motivating them to pursue careers in engineering and technology. To that end, I call on all our members to reach out to women and girls in their networks and encourage them to get involved with SWE.

As the CHIPS Act opens new avenues for semiconductor manufacturing, our organization will continue to provide the support and resources necessary to empower women to seize these opportunities. We are also actively working with a number of employers in the semiconductor industry to support their workforce development commitments.

SWE’s ongoing commitment to forging strong partnerships with industry leaders, academia, and policymakers to ensure a cohesive approach to workforce development is unwavering. By collaborating with key players in the semiconductor ecosystem, we can align our efforts with industry demands and tailor our programs to produce skilled and versatile professionals who can drive the sector forward.

To further support these efforts, the Society has joined the CHIPS for America Teaming Partner List — specifically as a resource for workforce development.

The Society currently partners with more than 140 organizations through our Corporate Partnership Council, India Corporate Council, and European Corporate Council, along with the hundreds of organizations that support our annual conference and WE Local conferences to promote the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in engineering.

In addition, our DEIB products and programs help organizations create an inclusive environment. Visit swe.org/learning/diproducts/ to learn more about these resources.

SWE, along with our global community, is dedicated to preparing a workforce that is innovative, resilient, and reflective of the society it serves. Together, we can propel all industries to new heights and secure women’s position at the forefront of technological innovation.

Karen Horting, CAE
Executive Director & CEO