AUSTIN (Nexstar) — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul are in Austin Friday to promote the newly-passed bipartisan semiconductor legislation, which is designed to encourage semiconductor manufacturing on American soil amid global supply chain issues.
The Texas Republicans are touring new labs and classrooms at Austin Community College, designed to train the next generation of technicians needed for Texas semiconductor companies. The school’s program also offers dual-college credit classes for high school students interested in going into chip manufacturing.
“We really have to work harder to make sure people understand the importance of semiconductors and the great careers that they can have,” said Jon Taylor, vice president of the Samsung Austin Semiconductor.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS Act, which has been led by Cornyn and McCaul in the Senate and House, respectively. The law provides $200 million for workforce development programs for the domestic semiconductor industry, like the programs ACC offers.
Taylor said about one-third of its technician employees from the last three years have come from Austin Community College.
“This Taylor project is really considered a kind of Field of Dreams,” he said. “The ‘build it and they will come’ kind of runs out of steam if you don’t have the workforce.”
Industry stakeholders said it will be critical to start recruitment as early as high school since not enough students are educated about these types of career opportunities.
“There’s plenty more jobs, way more jobs, than our students and that’s where we need to grow,” said Laura Marmolejo, department chair of ACC’s Advanced Manufacturing program.
The legislation also allocates $39 billion to build and modernize chipmaking plants in the country and $11 billion for semiconductor research.
This comes after the pandemic contributed to a shortage of semiconductor chips, which are used in everyday technologies like computers and cars. However, new manufacturing facilities, like the one Samsung is bringing to Taylor, Texas, could help the country become less reliant on semiconductors made in other countries.