50% of jobs at Intel may only require a high school diploma

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — About half of the jobs initially created at Intel’s future semiconductor fabs in New Albany may only require a high school diploma, a sign that a Large swathes of Central Ohio’s workforce could find employment at Intel’s close at hand.

According to an analysis of the employment distribution in semiconductor manufacturing plants using data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of jobs directly hired by Intel may require a bachelor’s degree. Columbus economist Bill LaFayette, who runs Regionomics LLC, reviewed data from some of the potential jobs at such a facility; Columbus Business First expanded this review to match the planned 3,000 full factory openings.

Intel is expected to directly employ 3,000 workers in its initial $20 billion expansion in central Ohio, though the project could eventually grow significantly larger as Intel builds more factories, or ” fabs”, here. These jobs will come with an average salary of $135,000, or 2.5 times the median household income in Columbus.

According to BLS data, nearly 50% of the occupations that typically make up semiconductor manufacturing plants in the United States require only high school diplomas. The largest group of these workers will likely be electrical and electromechanical assemblers, followed by semiconductor processing technicians, inspectors and testers, and assemblers and fabricators.

The 40% of a semiconductor manufacturing plant workforce that requires a bachelor’s degree includes industrial engineers, software developers, electronic engineers, hardware engineers, and electrical engineers.

The remaining roughly 10% of the typical semiconductor manufacturing workforce is split between 7% workers with an associate degree and smaller groups with no formal education, no post-secondary degree, and with a college degree or no degree.

LaFayette said a substantial amount of on-the-job training, provided by Intel or an education provider like Columbus State Community College, will still be needed to create a skilled workforce.

“There are a lot of occupations in this group of the most prevalent occupations that only require a high school diploma, but a lot of training,” LaFayette told us. “I’m willing to bet if you don’t give a damn about your high school diploma, they won’t want you.” They are likely to be more picky than people in the same position in other industries.

LaFayette said semiconductor manufacturing may end up being “more demanding,” but Intel’s workforce is likely to still be inclusive.

“I guess an associate’s degree could handle it, in a lot of cases,” LaFayette said. “I think it’s going to transform our economy the same way Honda has been. We’re going to get concentrations of jobs that we didn’t have before and that few parts of the country actually have.

LaFayette said it will be up to central Ohio education providers and Intel to “tweak the K-12 system and put more emphasis on STEM education” to ensure residents of the central Ohio are primed for the jobs.

“Increased demand for these workers, especially in core occupations, will increase market wages for these and similar occupations and make it harder for existing employers to keep these workers,” LaFayette said.

However, the Economist also said Intel is likely to “cast its net wide enough to recruit staff” by importing workers from all over Ohio, and potentially other states.

It remains to be seen exactly how the numbers will evolve at Intel in particular.

An Intel spokesperson did not immediately respond to our request for comment on the analysis.

During Intel’s January 21 announcement in Licking County, however, Keyvan Esfarjani, the company’s senior vice president, said chip factories “require (a) diverse team of engineers and technicians highly qualified to operate them”.

He said a wide variety of education levels would be needed, including two-year degrees all the way up to doctorates.

According to a 2021 report by the Semiconductor Industry Association, the industry employs a higher share of workers with college degrees compared to all other industries. But one in five workers in industry has not attended college.

“It shows how the semiconductor industry is an increasingly rare example of an industry that provides opportunities across the spectrum of education and skills where jobs exist for workers to earn. wages to support their families,” the report said.

Columbus State President David Harrison recently told us that Intel’s investment in the region could close economic inequality.

“These are inclusive, not exclusive (at Intel) opportunities,” Harrison said following the announcement.

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