While some industries are pulling back on entry-level hiring, the semiconductor industry can’t get enough of the young, skilled talent hitting the job market. Recent graduates are flocking to the industry at levels unseen by other sectors.
A report released Tuesday by college recruiting platform Handshake found that the number of submitted job applications at semiconductor companies was up 79% compared to last year, while applications for companies outside the industry were up just 19%. The increase in interest among young workers was especially high among those seeking internships, with such applications up 163%, compared to 21% for other industries.
Industry recruiters, feeling the squeeze of an industrywide talent shortage, welcome the uptick in job interest. The Biden administration passed the CHIPS Act in August 2022 to establish the U.S. as a leader in semiconductor manufacturing. But despite significant federal and private investments in what some economists predict will be a $1 trillion sector by the end of the decade, experts warn of a talent shortage of 70,000 to 90,000 workers over the next few years.
The industry desperately needs workers with software and digital skills, to the tune of one million additional workers by 2030, according to Deloitte. Luckily, more young workers seem eager to meet the demand, likely due to a slumping economy and the job shutout in Big Tech. But Christine Cruzvergara, chief education strategy officer at Handshake, believes younger workers’ interest in semiconductors correlates with shifting employee priorities and expectations. A separate Handshake report found that the most recent class of graduates cares far less about working for a big-name or fast-growing company.
“Between summer 2022 and spring 2023, we saw a 10 percentage point drop in the share of 2023 graduates who say company brand is a factor in their job search and a 20 percentage point drop in the share who say a company’s growth rate is a factor,” wrote the report’s authors.
It speaks to a cohort seeking stability and shying away from the volatility currently in other sectors, says Cruzvergara. “I was heartened to see that this class is paying attention to where the opportunities are, and they are unafraid to perhaps pivot or think about applying their skills in a way that maybe 12 months ago they weren’t thinking about.”
Semiconductor company ASML is one of the organizations benefiting from the shift in career goals. This year’s internship class topped out around 225 interns, up from 150 interns the year prior.
Dana Gharda, head of university relations at ASML, says it feels like they’re the “cool kids” in the job market now. She’s seen increased buzz, inquiries, and heightened awareness among prospective hires who are intentionally looking for jobs in the sector—many of whom would have walked into software engineering roles at tech startups in the past.
“There’s a lot of activity that’s going on just in the [semiconductor] industry and in the U.S. in general,” Gharda tells Fortune. “This natural curiosity is causing people to start paying attention to this industry that they never really noticed before.”
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