Padilla, Warnock Push to Bolster Diversity in Semiconductor Workforce Passed in CHIPS Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) today applauded the passage of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act, essential legislation that will create jobs, lower costs, support our national security, boost domestic manufacturing, strengthen domestic supply chains, and preserve American competitiveness in the 21st century. The legislation includes a provision Padilla and Warnock championed to ensure jobs created through the legislation serve disadvantaged groups and bolster diversity and inclusion in the semiconductor industry. Today, just 4 percent of the semiconductor workforce is Black and 13 percent Hispanic, compared to 10 percent and 17 percent in all manufacturing fields respectively.

The CHIPS for America Act passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 64-33.

“As this transformational legislation advances through Congress, I am pleased to see that it includes our provision to ensure that jobs created from this bill are distributed equitably and taxpayer funding will also support minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses,” said Senator Padilla. “This bill is a good step in ensuring America keeps its competitive edge and reducing our dependence on foreign governments. As a mechanical engineer, I understand firsthand how important these investments are to increase our STEM workforce and reassert American leadership at the forefront of scientific innovation and technology.”

“This provision will help lower costs, create Georgia jobs, and ensure all Georgia workers are ready to compete in a changing global economy. I’ve been proud to play an integral role in getting this provision over the finish line,” said Senator Reverend Warnock.

In addition to spurring major new investments in the domestic manufacturing of essential semiconductor components that drive almost all aspects of our society, the CHIPS for America Act would require the Department of Commerce to ensure that the recipients of semiconductor manufacturing incentives meet their commitments to increase the participation of economically disadvantaged individuals in the semiconductor workforce. Such personnel would also serve as a resource to support the participation of minority-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses, and women-owned businesses in CHIPS-funded projects.

A 2019 Global Semiconductor Alliance/Accenture survey also found less than 25 percent of semiconductor employees are female and fewer than 1 percent of leadership roles at most companies are held by women. Earlier this year, Padilla and Warnock pushed Senate leadership to support provisions that would require semiconductor companies receiving federal assistance for research, design, and manufacturing to invest in a more diverse workforce and improve procurement from minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses. This new provision strengthens existing law that requires recipients of federal semiconductor incentives to carry out programs to expand employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged individuals and work with regional educational and training entities and institutions of higher education to provide workforce training.

Additionally, the bill authorizes the largest five-year investment in public research and development in the nation’s history for the National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Energy. This investment would grow both critical curiosity-driven and translational research, ensuring both the pursuit of new ideas and the resources necessary to put those ideas into action to create new innovations, products, companies, and jobs in the United States. The bill represents a significant investment in enhancing the diversity and growth of our STEM workforce, and expanding critical research initiatives at our national laboratories and universities.

For the full text of the bill, click here.


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