Typically, high school students do not work in the semiconductor industry. However, that’s going to change in Hillsboro, a tech-heavy city, where businesses have approximately 800 job openings in sophisticated manufacturing. At least for six students at Hillsboro Century High School.
In collaboration with the City of Hillsboro and nearby businesses, the Hillsboro School District announced on Monday that it is starting Oregon’s first officially recognized youth advanced manufacturing apprenticeship program.
This April, according to the Oregon reports, the Bureau of Labor & Industries approved the Hillsboro Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship. After completing the two-year program, teenagers will be qualified to work as production technicians, an entry-level position that is so in demand that Intel even aired recruitment commercials on Sunday Night Football to attract candidates.
Everyone is in severe need of talent, and that need will only grow, according to Kristi Wilson, a city official in charge of workforce development who worked on the apprenticeship program’s establishment. First Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship In Oregon Has Been Introduced In Hillsboro.
People frequently picture highly paid engineers when considering employment opportunities at Intel, the largest private company in Oregon. But the factory workers who create the computer chips that power modern life—and Intel and other semiconductor firms—rely heavily on them.
For the state’s youngest students, the path to that employment may be “invisible”, according to Wilson. We have been discussing the pipeline for quite some time, she added. And there aren’t many K–12 pathways for semiconductors, either.
The 11th graders in the first cohort of the apprenticeship will continue their academic studies at Century High. Additionally, they will work with mentors at Hillsboro-based Jireh Semiconductor and supplier Tosoh Quartz, where they will initially be paid $16 an hour. After high school, the kids have the option of staying at the companies to work for $18 per hour or moving on to other opportunities.
Although Intel actively assisted in the program’s development, it is not yet prepared to host a young apprentice, according to Wilson. Three will be held at Jireh Semiconductor.
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According to Lynn Nelson, the company’s recruiting manager, “We’ve moved away from truly giving them the opportunity to explore what they want to do.” It was emphasized for far too long that everyone should attend college.
In their first year of employment, Jireh technicians, according to Nelson, may expect to make roughly $50,000, particularly if they’re prepared to work nighttime shifts. He said that Jireh’s 12-hour shifts have built-in extra compensation. He claimed that the business offers technicians the chance to progress.
The apprenticeship program has been praised by authorities as promoting a diversified talent pool and a route to living-wage jobs for people like Hillsboro mayor Steve Callaway.
As Oregon’s semiconductor industry prepares to spend federal funds from the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, that pipeline may become even more crucial.
The program of apprenticeship has restrictions. It is currently only accessible to Century High students enrolled in a certain vocational and technical education program. Increasing access to each of Hillsboro’s high schools is the aim.
According to program organizers, the first round of students all identifies as men. The school district’s youth apprenticeship project manager, Claudia Rizo, wants to spread awareness of the program among students who are typically underrepresented in advanced manufacturing, particularly young women.
To do that, recruit female students as they go from middle to high school. She asserted that students “can’t genuinely be what they can’t see.”