close up image of a panel from the mechatronics department.

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus has joined the North Texas Semiconductor Workforce Development Consortium, headed by the University of Texas at Dallas, after passage of the state’s CHIPS Act in June.

The consortium includes five North Texas community colleges, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the semiconductor industry organization SEMI.

Both the state and national CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) acts were designed with the purpose of helping build the United States’ ability to manufacture semiconductors.  

Jonathan Hoekstra, executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer for TSTC, commented on the importance of the bill and the semiconductor industry that it was created to help.

“Increasingly the world has become dependent on a small region of the globe that has the lion’s share of the capacity in terms of manufacturing semiconductors,” he said. “I think through the pandemic there was really a recognition that that created a real vulnerability … because semiconductors really impact nearly every industry, across advanced economies. The bill, this new money, this new private investment, will allow us to bring more of that capacity domestically and make us less vulnerable to that situation across the globe.”

Multiple major semiconductor manufacturers located in the North Texas region have stated their intentions to expand. The expansion alone is estimated to require more than 12,000 new employees through 2027. Factoring in the number of employees who will retire, it is estimated that there will be a need for more than 16,000 new employees through 2027.

The consortium’s primary priority is the recruitment and training of technicians and manufacturing operators to fill these roles.

“That’s where we really are representing Texas, in trying to understand what that need is and ensuring that we sufficiently supply where we can,” Hoekstra said.

As part of the consortium, TSTC’s North Texas campus was awarded money with the goal of hiring a recruiter whose main objective will be to recruit students into the programs that have the skills that semiconductor industry partners are looking for.

“What they’re looking for essentially, right now, is someone with strong technical skills that can translate really across a number of different industries,” Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, said. “And so right now, our involvement is growing our programs that we do have here to essentially produce more candidates that can be chosen from by those industry partners.”

Balch said he believes that taking these steps in supporting the semiconductor industry reflects TSTC’s mission of placing more Texans in great-paying jobs.

“(We are) staying true to understanding what the needs are of the Texas workforce and our industry partners and adapting what we do as best we can to meet those needs,” he said. “There’s going to be a huge opportunity to place more people into that industry moving forward.”

Madelynne Johnston, chief of staff for TSTC Operations, echoed the sentiment.

“Our mission is to serve the state of Texas, and in this case, it’s the nation and the world — it’s global,” she said. “So to be able to be a part of it, to help the economy develop and respond to the need, is exactly what we do. That’s our mission.”

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