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Creating a Talented Pipeline of Workers through Apprenticeships and Career Pathways Programs

Earlier this week, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo gave virtual remarks at a National Apprenticeship Week event hosted by Metaverse where she underlined the Biden Administration’s commitment to America’s workforce by creating direct pathways to good-paying jobs.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the federal government is investing more than a trillion dollars in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing, and more,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Workforce development investments, including apprenticeships, are in the DNA of these programs. They’re going to help make sure we have enough highly skilled workers to meet the demand.”

Building a skilled and diverse pipeline of workers is particularly critical in the manufacturing of semiconductors or chips. Thanks to the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, the Commerce Department is overseeing $50 billion to revitalize the U.S. semiconductor industry to build out the domestic semiconductor workforce.

The manufacturing sector is one of the best places for workers without college degrees to find high-wage jobs. However, industry estimates show our nation will have a shortage of 300,000 engineers and 90,000 technical workers by 2030. To meet that demand, Commerce Secretary Raimondo has called on semiconductor companies to work with high schools and community colleges to train 100,000 new technicians over the next decade through apprenticeships, career and technical education, and career pathway programs. She also has called on colleges and universities to triple the number of graduates in semiconductor-related fields, including engineering.

In addition to the Secretary’s virtual remarks, Department of Commerce Senior Counselor Zoe Baird joined Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and Domestic and Policy Advisor to the President Neera Tanden earlier this week at a graduation ceremony for students who recently completed apprenticeship programs. Through the Registered Apprenticeship program, young people are provided with good jobs and employers are provided with skilled, entry-level employees.

During the ceremony, Commerce Senior Counselor Zoe Baird congratulated students on their graduation and stressed the need for apprentices to choose careers in the manufacturing of semiconductors or chips.

“Apprentices, like you, will help build high-tech semiconductor factories and work inside these factories to research, develop, and make the chips necessary to keep the United States on the cutting edge and protect our national security,” she said.  

The Department of Commerce’s mission is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities. Essential to that mission is the need to build sustainable, employer-driven career pathways to meet employers’ talent demand and connect Americans to quality jobs.