Semiconductor fab employees are quitting at record numbers. The United States has a significant opportunity to capture a larger share of the global semiconductor manufacturing market. However, numerous challenges must be overcome, the most critical being the recruitment and retention of a workforce capable of building and operating semiconductor fabrication plants.

The tight labor market has made it difficult for major chip companies to hire new talent, and a recent job satisfaction survey reveals alarming trends. According to the survey, 53% of employees in electronic and semiconductor manufacturing roles are likely to leave their current jobs within the next 3 to 6 months. That means over half of the semiconductor workforce is considering leaving, which is a significant obstacle to the U.S.’s goal of increasing its market share from less than 10% to 20% by 2030.

If the survey’s findings are accurate, replacing this talent quickly enough seems highly challenging. Additionally, filling the new positions required for the upcoming fabs will be a monumental task. Unfortunately, many employees are not just changing jobs within the industry but are leaving manufacturing altogether. This trend is driven by an aging workforce, evolving skill requirements, and a search for better work environments and growth opportunities. Moreover, new entrants to the workforce are less inclined to pursue manufacturing careers, opting instead for roles in digital and analytics fields.

To illustrate the scale of the problem, data from 2022 shows 25,000 job listings for semiconductor engineers and technicians, double the number in 2021 and triple that of 2020. The new fabs expected to be operational by 2030 will require an additional 48,000 skilled workers, with some needed as soon as 2025.

Three key labor pools are essential for building and operating these plants: construction craft laborers, engineers, and technicians. Currently, there is a shortage in all three areas, and there is no indication this will improve soon. For the U.S. to achieve its ambitious goal of capturing 20% of the global market by 2030, it must focus on retaining existing workers and training new talent. Failing to address the semiconductor labor shortage poses a significant risk that could delay or diminish the return on this substantial endeavor.

Click to read more about the results of this shocking semiconductor employee survey.