Hobbs and TSMC announce plan to double apprenticeships, promote workplace safety

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Friday announced a new program with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) aimed at expanding resources for apprenticeship programs, as well as protecting workers.

Hobbs announced the launch of Build It Arizona, a new program that is designed to double the number of construction and trade apprenticeships by 2026, including opportunities for women and other underrepresented workers in the sector.

The initiative seeks to update existing procedures and regulations to better match market trends and successful practices in the industry. The state will also allocate $500,000 in federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds as a downpayment to support existing employer-funded apprenticeships.

“These programs play a significant role in Arizona’s economic development by strengthening our local workforce,” Hobbs said. “As apprentices graduate with enhanced skills and knowledge, they’re better prepared and can quickly contribute to increased productivity and innovation.”

The Build It Arizona initiative is part of the state’s response to TSMC’s growing need for a high-skilled workforce after the company announced in July that factory production at the facility would be delayed from 2024 to 2025 due to worker shortages. Hobbes said that the new programs address concerns about worker safety, while also setting up the skills for Arizona’s future workforce, which has already seen a 42% increase in registered apprenticeships since 2010.

“I’m proud to bring TSMC and Arizona workers together to create safe, good-paying jobs, expand our middle class, and invest in the future of our economy,” Hobbs said. “Arizona will work tirelessly to train the workforce of the future as we lead the country in semiconductor manufacturing. With workers and business at the table, we will continue to grow for generations to come and ensure Arizonans have the skills they need to thrive.”

Also helping to meet the demand for talent in the state’s semiconductor sector is the Maricopa Community College system’s Semiconductor Quick Start program, which can prepare students for entry-level employment in the semiconductor industry in as little as two weeks or 40 hours, help them earn an industry certification,  and arrange for an interview with a semiconductor company. 

In addition to the apprenticeships announcement, Hobbs met with Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health officials, TSMC executives, and workers to sign a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) covering the construction project for TSMC’s new factory in north Phoenix.

The agreement will apply to all contractors on site and will include on-site visits, annual evaluations, managerial training, and technical assistance and training provided by ADOSH. Currently, 12,000 workers are already working on the project.

Hobbs said that TSMC had agreed to worker safety requirements over the next two years that are stricter than those at the federal level, which will include greater transparency for workers and closer oversight from ADOSH.

“The safety of our employees and construction workforce has been paramount from day 1 of this project. Our commitment to safety is not just a statement; it is ingrained in the very fabric of our culture,” TSMC Arizona President Brian Harrison said. “This is one of the largest active construction projects in the country, and with this partnership agreement, we have taken further action to ensure that every individual who steps foot on our Phoenix site understands the high priority we place on creating the safest possible workplace.”

Craig Ruiz

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