How Will the CHIPS Act Impact Training in the Manufacturing Industry?

“We will no longer have to depend on anyone to make the chips we need” said Ronnie Chatterji, deputy director of the National Economic Council. Signed on August 25, 2022 by President Biden, the CHIPS Act is a bill that encourages onshore semiconductor manufacturing on domestic soil rather than overseas. With this bill in effect, how will it impact the manufacturing industry? More precisely, how will this affect digital training within the chip-building sector?

The CHIPS Act at a glance

The European CHIPS Act was first proposed in 2021 and later enacted alongside the Industrial Alliance Processors and Semiconductor Technologies. The main aim is to increase Europe’s global share in semiconductor chip production to 20% by 2030.

Similarly, the US passed the CHIPS and Science ACT, which includes $52 billion in domestic aid to assist in the growth of semiconductor manufacturing on American soil. As of 2022, the US accounts for only 12% of global chip production, down from 40% in 1990.

The impact of the CHIPS Act on digital learning

Part of the CHIPS Act funding is allotted to industry education. It remains to be seen how this will impact distance learning in the manufacturing sector. However, HR professionals should take the following strategies into account.

1. Increased cybersecurity implementations

Digital training material and learners profiles need to be carefully guarded against cyber intrusions. With the CHIPS Act focusing on domestic semiconductor expansion, this will invite attacks from varying threat vectors, both local and abroad. In fact, one study revealed that 40% of manufacturing companies experienced at least one cyberattack; 38% of the impacted companies incurred at least $1 million in damage as a result.

As domestic production expands, cybersecurity must be the top priority. Learners taking company-led courses should follow best safety practices, such as:

  • Recognizing signs of a phishing attack
  • Reporting a stolen device to HR immediately
  • Not sharing passwords, and enabling two-factor authentication
  • Running attachments through a malware scanner on devices where learners access the course

2. Greater hands-on learning

Part of the CHIPS Act includes funding for regional tech hubs. Qualifying companies may be able to invest in brick-and-mortar learning centres, which helps new employees and existing staff alike receive the necessary and latest hands-on training. This enhances the training they receive through the company’s e-learning courses. Through the use of learning management solutions, supervisors and administrators can create hybrid educational settings that blend the best of both worlds.

3. The CHIPS Act impact on training disclosures

To qualify for benefits under the CHIPS Act, companies are prohibited from collaborating with companies in countries deemed to pose a security risk to the country. 

At the start of the training, there needs to be a detailed briefing regarding the dissemination of information. Specifically, course materials are for student and administrator eyes only. Under no circumstances are students to share course information with foreign entities. Likewise, no material should be disseminated on social media or online and offline public spheres. The consequences for violation need to be made clear, whether that be immediate termination or even legal ramifications.

4. Keeping up to date on industry trends

The CHIPS Act includes financial aid for research and development. Training should include the latest breakthroughs and innovations in the industry and discussions on how these changes can impact day-to-day operations, both on the manufacturing floor and digital environment. 

Companies should extract news and trends from research universities, particularly those with big-ticket funding and established facilities like level 5 cleanrooms. This also includes keeping up with the latest insights from related federal organisations, such as the American Semiconductor Academy, the globally recognized SEMI, and the impending National Network for Microelectronics Education.

5. Serving under-represented communities

Among the many eligibility requirements, companies must demonstrate a commitment to worker and community investment, including educational and career opportunities for under-represented and economically disadvantaged communities. Companies must submit an executable plan outlining how they plan to achieve these benchmarks. This can partly be done through a robust diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) act. 

Training isn’t limited to the core subject matter. It should also include training on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as incorporate anti-harassment and zero-tolerance policies.

6. Metric evaluations

Under the current provisions, companies eligible under the CHIPS Act will receive benefits for a period of 10 years. The details on eligibility criteria have yet to be released, but companies will likely have to submit some documentation of progress and advancement to remain eligible for benefits year after year. 

As far as the training goes, administrators should maintain records of student performance and evaluations, including statistical reports on completion rates, average scores, etc. There should also be remedial assistance for students falling behind. These facets all demonstrate a good faith effort in maintaining a tight curriculum and industry standards when your company is under review for benefits renewal.

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