WIP Episode 322 John Mitchell (1)

Engineers and technicians needed as chip manufacturing is poised to surge

A conversation with John Mitchell, president & CEO, IPC International
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In this episode of Work in Progress, I am joined by John Mitchell, president & CEO, IPC International to discuss the increased demand for workers in the semiconductor manufacturing industry and how the group is developing the workforce of the present and the future.

Semiconductors are the backbone of the digital economy, powering our cars, planes, medical tech, cybersecurity, our dishwashers and TVs, and they are at the heart of AI. Nearly everything we touch needs a chip, and commercial construction is surging in the U.S., driven in part by federal government investments designed to bring more chip manufacturing to the country.

We’ve asked this question many times – and have heard the same answer – do we have enough workers in the wings ready to fill the tens of thousands of jobs that are expected as a result of this boom in manufacturing construction? The answer is “not yet.”

When we think of semiconductions, we simply think of the processor in our computer, says Mitchell. But, he explains, that small chip couldn’t exist without the electronics manufacturers that IPC represents.

“Let’s use the analogy of a car. It’s the engine of your car. And it’s a fairly complex thing just like an engine is.

“There are companies like Intel and TSMC and Samsung that really design and create the silicon. But the silicon, as itself, is not really good for much. But you add all the connections and ‘wheels and doors’ and electronics that tie through all of the systems. And when you put all of that together, then you end up with a ‘car.’

“So, we cover from the semiconductors to the assemblers, people that design the products, the board manufacturers, materials, and equipment manufacturers that help make all of that possible.”

That’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of potential workers.

“I’ve sat in a couple of workforce meetings on the CHIPS Act, and in the White House, and it seems to be about 50-50 technicians versus engineers that’ll be directly working in the industry,” Mitchell tells me.

He says that while the engineers and researchers are highly-degreed roles, you don’t need a degree for many of the technician roles and IPC can help you get the skills in electronics that you need to work in the chip industry.

“IPC has credential programs where you can literally get a certification or a credential and develop those skills very quickly in a matter of hours. And you could be starting helping out in an electronics factory and then you continue to add from there. They are stackable credentials and there’s pathways.

“As of last November, we’re the first federally-recognized electronics apprenticeship programs. We originally had two that were approved in November, and since then we’ve added another one. We expect to continue to add as time goes forward,” says Mitchell.

Want to know more about these workforce development training programs? Check out the podcast. You can listen here, or get it wherever you get your podcasts.

You can also find it on my Work in Progress YouTube channel.

Episode 322: John Mitchell, president & CEO, IPC International
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4
Transcript: Download the transcript for this episode here
Work in Progress Podcast: Catch up on previous episodes here

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