TSMC announces new apprenticeship program to grow semiconductor technician talent

Senior officials from the Biden administration were in Phoenix last week to announce a new apprenticeship program investment by TSMC for aspiring semiconductor technicians. The initiative is part of Phoenix’s designation as a Workforce Hub, regions of concentration under a White House plan to ensure the country can meet the labor demands of the Chips and Science Act.

Under the $5 million investment by TSMC, the company intends to train 80 facility technician apprentices over five years, with support from Phoenix and the Arizona State Apprenticeship Office, and will scale over time and expand its curriculum to additional roles. As a part of this effort, TSMC Arizona will also recruit technician apprentices from local communities.

“When we started recruiting for TSMC, we knew that attracting technicians would be one of our tougher challenges,” TSMC Arizona President Brian Harrison said, adding that TSMC facilities are some of the most advanced in the world, and they use some of the most advanced equipment in the world. “Our fabs and our equipment are not Oldsmobiles. They’re more like Formula 1 race cars.”

Harrison said his company’s investment in the community goes beyond the multi-billion-dollar capital investment in the construction of two fabs at its north Phoenix campus and that TSMC intends to cultivate the area’s workforce in the decades to come. 

Maricopa Community College and Arizona State University serve as anchor institutions for the Hub, and the Phoenix region is now home to Arizona’s first semiconductor Registered Apprenticeship programs and the city’s workforce board is the first-ever to sponsor a Registered Apprenticeship program in the semiconductor industry.

“Today we’re launching a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program, a philanthropic fund to lift folks into new career pathways and establish fruitful partnerships to curate the talent we need to fill the jobs of the future,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said at the announcement. “We are talking about the kind of jobs that we all want for this community.”

The philanthropic contribution will come from the Arizona Community Foundation, which is leading the creation of a $5 million fund in partnership with other community-based organizations for equitable workforce development initiatives. The fund is designed to support 1,500 non-traditional-talent and underserved residents with training to enter in-demand jobs. The fund will provide grants to organizations that provide wrap-around services for workforce training and attainment.

The announcement also included news of a new collaboration between the Phoenix Union High School District and the West Maricopa Education Center, also known as WestMEC, to enable high school students to access in-demand advanced manufacturing credentials. Under the program scheduled to launch next fall, students will be able to earn certifications that will make them competitive for jobs in advanced manufacturing, with tuition covered by the state.

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