WCC part of state's push to achieve global semiconductor superiority

May 25, 2023 Fran LeFort


Washtenaw Community College President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca joined Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II on Wednesday in announcing that the Great Lakes State is launching its largest-ever campaign to promote careers, recruit talent and attract new businesses to fill jobs in Michigan’s thriving semiconductor industry. 

Gilchrist outlined Michigan’s plan to achieve superiority in the global semiconductor industry.

Bellanca and other higher education leaders, as well as business executives and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), discussed specific roles of their organizations to advance the semiconductor industry within the state.

WCC will launch a new short-term semiconductor technician training program to begin within the next year to train workers for critical jobs within the electrification and automotive industry.

“One of the most important jobs we have as a community college is to quickly train the current and future workforce and serve as an economic driver for our region, state, and even nationally. We do this by listening to industry to understand their needs and then partnering with them to customize programs,” Bellanca said at the press conference.

The college announced its new training progam last week in tandem with KLA, imec, General Motors, the University of Michigan and MEDC, all as founding partners in the Michigan STAR program.

“It will make a positive difference -- not just in the lives of students who will be ready to step into high wage critical jobs, but it will also benefit the companies and will drive economic growth,” Bellanca told reporters. “It’s a win no matter how you look at it, and we are proud to help fuel this new talent pipeline.”

Gilchrist called Michigan the epicenter for mobility innovation and home of  “the No. 1 emerging startup ecosystem,” as well as the fastest growing  clean energy sector in the country.

“Michigan demonstrates our global leadership as a hub for advanced manufacturing and innovation, especially in the semiconductor industry,” he said. “Let’s keep working together to bring advanced manufacturing and critical supply chains home as we create economic opportunity in every region and build a brighter future for Michigan.’

Joining Gilchrist II and Bellanca were MEDC Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Solutions & Engagement Officer Kerry Ebersole Singh; University of Michigan President Santa J. Ono; Michigan State University Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff; Wayne State University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Lawrence Kornbluh; Michigan Technological University President Richard J. Koubek; Delta College President Michael Gavin; Lansing Community College President Steve Robinson; KLA Global ESG Leader and Ann Arbor Site Lead John McLaughlin and Bay City-based SK Siltron CSS CEO Jianwei Dong.

 Michigan is leading the nation with an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ consortium that has successfully identified key skills and competencies most needed by employers to drive future microchip industry development,” Ebersole Singh said.  

 That’s not just the Gov. Whitmer administration or the MEDC saying that,” Ebersole Singh added. “That’s what we’re hearing from leaders of the semiconductor industry who are amazed and impressed by what Michigan is doing right now.”

The MEDC’s Semiconductor Talent Action Team (TAT) announced today is a collaborative, public/private partnership aimed at making Michigan a top state for semiconductor talent solutions and growth. The TAT will build on the Great Lakes State’s push to onshore critical supply chains of semiconductors back to Michigan, creating good-paying jobs and reducing delays and shortages. As Michigan seeks to support research and development and manufacturing facilities, an increase in supply of engineers and technicians will be critical to semiconductor success.

Michigan’s Semiconductor TAT has already successfully built a consortium that includes seven higher education partners, 15 semiconductor employers and two industry associations that are collaborating with the state to focus on five semiconductor roles with demand across priority value chain areas:

  • Computer engineers
  • Electrical engineers
  • Industrial/process engineers
  • Semiconductor processing technicians
  • Maintenance and repair workers

Michigan is among the first states in the nation with a consortium that has successfully identified key skills and competencies most needed by employers to drive future microchip industry development.

MEDC TAT officials say more of Michigan’s four-year- and two-year-degree institutions are invited to join the consortium, especially as community colleges are considered a crucial piece of the microelectronics workforce puzzle that Michigan is looking to solve.

To support this effort, launching TODAY is an online application (TAT Semi Grant | Michigan Business) for prospective higher education consortium members to apply for up to $3 million in grants to:

  • Create a new Michigander Semiconductor Scholarship incentive program that will mirror the state’s popular EV/mobility student recruitment campaign. The Michigander Scholars Program’s EV/Mobility cohort has already identified more than 30 Michigan university students who are eligible for up to $10,000 in scholarships and starting full-time positions and internships in Michigan with partner employers. Furthermore, the cohort has more than 200 students, who are in the pipeline to determine if they qualify, actively participating in networking and programming with industry leaders.
  • Develop semiconductor education curricula and flexible training models to jump-start career paths to the five in-demand job roles.
  • Expand and launch new PK-12 semiconductor engagement and awareness efforts such as skills boot camps.

The news conference highlighted Michigan’s recent semiconductor accomplishments, including:

  • A new public-private partnership with semiconductor company KLA, Belgium-based technology innovation hub imec, the University of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College and General Motors that will establish a global semiconductor center of excellence in Michigan as part of the state’s new Semiconductor Talent and Automotive Research (STAR) 
  • Michigan’s appeal to Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo urging the S. Economic Development Administration to designate a regional technology and innovation hub in Michigan. As part of a $500 million national investment, a Michigan Tech Hub would create good-paying, high-skill jobs in industries of the future, building on the state’s economic momentum by expanding Michigan’s knowledge economy.
  • The University of Michigan and Michigan State University’s collaboration with nine other Midwestern institutions to help universities that might not have the infrastructure — such as laboratory space or trained faculty — to give students semiconductor experience.



For growth-minded companies looking for the right business environment, Pure Michigan means Pure Opportunity. That’s why the MEDC has created new Talent Action Teams with an initial focus on the semiconductor and EV/mobility sectors.

The Semiconductor TAT aims to provide talent and research solutions to ensure employers can meet projected growth of up to 30,000 semiconductor jobs by 2030, positioning the Great Lakes State as employers’ go-to solution for talent and research partnership.


Michigan’s semiconductor industry by the numbers

  • The semiconductor industry contributes $4.6 billion in total gross regional product for Michigan.
  • Michigan’s semiconductor workforce ranks among the top 10 in the nation, with job growth projected to grow by at least 11% in the next five years.
  • Michigan is among the top states in the nation for semiconductor manufacturing, with industry jobs growing 12% between 2015 and 2020.
  • Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for employment in industries related to electric vehicle battery manufacturing, with 2,200 workers employed at Michigan battery manufacturing and OEM locations.


A hub for the semiconductor industry

  • Today, one-third of U.S. battery production and development occurs in Michigan, with 1,500 workers employed at various battery manufacturing and OEM locations, including LG Energy SolutionSamsung SDIand AKASOL.
  • With leading manufacturers, suppliers, R&D facilities, universities and ancillary services that contribute to the state’s setup for success, Michigan is leading the world for the next generation of semiconductor manufacturing and development through its robust R&D ecosystem. Michigan ranks in the top 10 nationally for the number of STEM degree completions at our higher education institutions and is home to the fifth-largest advanced manufacturing workforce in the country.
  • The University of Michigan is the top global institute for semiconductor training.
  • As the global epicenter of the automotive industry and home to one-fifth of U.S. auto production, Michigan is equipped to support the increasing global demand for semiconductor technology.
  • With a rich history in manufacturing and innovation, Michigan is poised to be a guiding hand as the world’s needs for semiconductor technology continue to evolve in the 21st century.
  • To learn more about how Michigan is a leader in the semiconductor industry, go to https://www.michiganbusiness.org/semiconductor.

Tags: Semiconductor, Workforce Development, Workforce Training

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