$10 Million In Training Funds For Oregon’s Semiconductor Industry Promises New Opportunities For Workers

With a growing need for workers in the semiconductor industry, Oregon’s lawmakers have passed House Bill 4154 (HB 4154) which establishes a $10 million Semiconductor Talent Sustaining Fund. The bill supports workforce training at public universities and community colleges for careers within the semiconductor industry.

Although HB 4154 passed without any difficulty, many of the bill’s original proposals have been dialed back. The close to $15m fund that would have been distributed between six educational institutions has now been reduced to $10m and has been moved to the legislature’s end-of-year spending bill.


New jobs in Oregon’s Semiconductor Industry

Intel- one of several tech companies in Oregon, employs over 22,000 people across four campuses in Hillsboro. The company announced early in 2023 that it was scrapping plans to build a $700 million research lab dedicated to sustainable data center technology.

Read: Oregon To Get Billions Of Dollars From Intel And The Federal Government

Despite Intel’s decision, Oregon employment officials still estimate that around 6,000 new jobs will be created in the tech sector in the coming years. This is in addition to about 1,000 new construction jobs that will support the expansion of tech companies in the region.

HB 4154 also calls for Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC)- which now has authority over distributing the money allocated by the Semiconductor Talent Sustaining Fund,  to address some of the more pressing long-term needs of the industry. It also provides for the advancement of a more diverse workforce and increases career opportunities for historically under-represented groups.


House Bill 4154 Effect On Semiconductor Industry

With authority over distributing the money allocated by the Semiconductor Talent Sustaining Fund, the HECC is empowered to provide training, education, and research to support the semiconductor industry. In delivering on its mandate, HB 4154’s goal should be done in a way that opens careers to Oregon residents who hold relevant qualifications, in a way that propels industry innovation and productivity.

The director of education and workforce policy with the Oregon Business Council- Kyle Ritchey-Noll, confirmed that the investments in the industry rely on Oregon’s commitment to producing a skilled, diverse workforce who can step into the new jobs. He said, “This bill addresses the need to be very strategic, very focused.”

Although  HB 4154 is different from the original concept, Ritchey-Noll sees the bill as a short-term win in the direct allocations to schools. He says that there is a longer-term opportunity through the fund that should set the region up to invest in semiconductor talent.

Read: Oregon’s Semiconductor Industry Will Support Job Growth As More Federal Money Is Expected

Passed a year after Oregon’s lawmakers allocated more than $500 million in subsidies and tax breaks to semiconductor organizations, the bill adds to the $240 million of that fund already awarded to 15 companies who plan to extend their operations in Oregon.

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