Michigan launches consortium of higher ed, employers to prepare semiconductor workforce

Jordyn Grzelewski, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

The Michigan Economic Development Corp., the state's economic development organization, is spearheading the launch of a consortium of higher education institutions and employers to train workers for jobs in the growing semiconductor industry.

That's according to an announcement Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, MEDC officials, and founding members of the consortium. The MEDC, meanwhile, is making information about the initiative available to educational institutions across the state so that they can communicate to state officials what their needs are in terms of contributing to the buildout of a semiconductor workforce.

Kerry Ebersole Singh, the MEDC's chief talent solutions and engagement officer, noted that the effort is being spurred in part by more than $50 billion in federal funding included in the CHIPS and Science Act to support domestic semiconductor research, development, manufacturing and workforce development.

The MEDC has established a semiconductor talent action team to oversee the development of the state's trategy.

"The talent action team is committed to positioning our Great Lakes state as employers' go-to solution for talent and research partnership," said Ebersole Singh.

The consortium includes industry associations, higher education partners and businesses in the semiconductor sector, many of whom were on hand for a virtual news conference for Wednesday's announcement at which they highlighted the ways in which they will contribute to the effort. The initiative is aimed at developing a workforce for jobs like computer engineering, maintenance repair and semiconductor processing.


"One of the most important jobs that we have as a community college is to quickly train the current and future workforce, and serve as an economic driver for our region, state and even nationally," said Rose Bellanca, Washtenaw Community College president. "And we do this by listening to industry to understand their needs, and then partnering with them to customize programs."

WCC is slated to launch a short-term semiconductor technician training program next year to prepare workers for "critical jobs to advance the EV and automotive industry," Bellanca said. As another example, Lansing Community College will launch a 10-day intensive semiconductor bootcamp, President Steve Robinson said.

Other higher ed consortium members include the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

Another component of the initiative, which is modeled on a similar program the state developed for the electric-vehicle sector, is a scholarship program that will launch later this summer. Students who enroll in specific degree programs and agree to work for at least a year at partnering employers would be eligible for up to $10,000.

"We need to hear from our institutions across the state, in terms of where they want to step in and work with industry and what they need in terms of financial support to be successful," said Ebersole Singh.

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