By 2030, demand for skilled professionals will far outstrip supply, with a financial impact of $8.452 trillion in unrealized revenue. Companies who address this potential challenge head on by evaluating how and where they find talented people could position themselves as leaders in driving growth and staying ahead of the curve.

Companies have two choices. The first to continue with business as usual, following long-standing recruitment models that prioritize education and experience. The second is to adopt a skills-based approach to hiring that opens new pools of candidates who would otherwise be hidden from view.

A skills-based hiring approach focuses on a candidate’s practical skillset that can offer value to a business, rather than their educational achievements and previous work history. As Senior Client Partner David Ellis explains, “It is a forward-looking approach that selects candidates for their potential future performance, not their past job responsibilities and track record.”

Leading-edge semiconductor companies are operationalizing skills-based hiring at scale. Their hiring best practices are industry agnostic, and following their example can give your organization a critical competitive advantage in the coming talent wars.

When the chips are down: What the global semiconductor market can teach us

The 2020s have been dubbed the “semiconductor decade,” with the industry expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Demand for chips has outpaced supply for years, and ongoing developments in AI, 5G, cloud and quantum computing will only intensify their need. Just as a supply-demand gap has emerged for chips, so too has a gap emerged for skilled workers.

The semiconductor industry needs more than one million new skilled professionals by 2030, and Korn Ferry believes that 50,000 to 150,000 more semiconductor engineers will be needed in the US alone. Global companies are building new manufacturing labs in the US, spurred by the CHIPS for America Act.

But finding professionals with the right skills to work in these labs has been challenging. Consequently, semiconductor companies are revisiting their recruitment strategies, including how to expand their talent base and better sell their company culture.

Hiring challenges aren’t limited to US markets. Around the world, tens of thousands of professionals are needed for a range of roles, including skilled tradespeople to build new plants for increased production capacity, electrical engineers for chip design, and operators and technicians.

Hiring for skills at scale: Three strategies for success

Whether your company is actively recruiting now or pausing as you make plans for future needs and business objectives, there’s no time like the present to build a more comprehensive, skills-based hiring approach that expands the available talent pool.

Here’s what some semiconductor companies are doing—and how your business can apply these strategies.

1 Hire for adjacent skills and upskill

Like many business sectors today, the semiconductor industry is multidisciplinary. Backgrounds in coding, computing, chemistry, mathematics and physics are all relevant.

In the US, where many companies face a significant talent shortage, thousands of professionals are currently in “chip-adjacent” roles. They may be working at tech companies on devices where chips are a component, but they lack chip design or engineering experience. Or they may be early-career professionals with engineering backgrounds but zero chip exposure.

“These professionals are all ideal candidates for upskilling,” says Kelsey Flewellen, Senior Director of Client Solutions. “They have a demonstrated capacity to grow their current knowledge base with more technical exposure and on-the-job training.”

In addition to expanding the available talent pool, upskilling boosts employer loyalty. In a market where 44% of professionals are thinking about their career path in months rather than years, upskilling can pay dividends by lowering turnover rates.

Young professionals are eager to learn new skills and appreciate companies that invest in their professional growth. They’re more likely to envision a long-term career path at these companies versus thinking about jobs as “one-off” engagements until the next thing comes along.

2 Sell the opportunity

With demand for skilled professionals outstripping the available talent pool, identifying candidates for upskilling is just the first step. You need to sell professionals on the opportunity with your organization—and this is where employer branding can make a difference. Korn Ferry has found that 75 percent of talent acquisition leaders say that employer brand significantly impacts their ability to hire great talent.

But what if your industry or company doesn’t “show well” compared with more popular peers? The semiconductor industry is grappling with this challenge.

Tech professionals are ideal hires because of their transferable skills and upskilling potential. Unfortunately, these professionals are often unfamiliar with the semiconductor industry. According to Flewellen, “They don’t realize just how cutting-edge the industry is or the exciting opportunities for professional growth. Another issue could be that what they’ve heard about company culture doesn’t appeal to them.”

Companies must focus on how to communicate opportunities to candidates. With the right branding, professionals will see your industry as an attractive opportunity for growth.

Then you need to get serious about cultivating a company culture that aligns with candidate aspirations. This is especially important for global companies where there may be a disconnect between cultural norms at the HQ location and regional offices. What do you offer at your company that other businesses don’t offer? Then follow through.

“From upskilling to leadership training, ensure the experience of working for your company matches the brand promises you make to new hires,” reminds Ellis.

Talent Acquisition

Finding talent that sees you through today and tomorrow

3 Integrate skills-based hiring across your strategy and processes

Skills-based hiring is much more than simply searching for resumes that list specific skills. It’s an intentional shift in how your company thinks about talent recruitment and retention—and it requires coordination at all levels of your organization.

Talent acquisition leaders can start by reframing the conversation around hiring. For example, rather than thinking, “How many people will we need? What roles need to be filled?”, leaders should ask, “What are the skills we need to be successful? Should we build them, or buy them?”

This shift in thinking allows organizations to be more strategic in their approach to skills-based hiring, including evaluating interview techniques, considering how unconscious biases may impact your resume review and interview process, and understanding barriers to internal mobility.

In the semiconductor industry, a comprehensive approach to skills-based hiring includes instilling a culture of continuous learning and training. “New hires aren’t 'done' acquiring skills once onboarding finishes," says Flewellen. "Like all employees, these hires are given ongoing learning opportunities supported by a company culture of knowledge-sharing and mentorships.”

If the skills shortage continues to intensify, so too will competition for talent. Continuing education and ongoing training not only ensures your current employees have the skills necessary to drive business success but also keeps them more engaged, boosting retention rates.

The next step for skills-based hiring

Korn Ferry gives you access to exceptional talent across the globe. Whether you’re struggling to operationalize skills-based hiring at scale or address an employer branding concern, the right partner can help your organization develop a comprehensive strategy that expands your pool of potential applicants and enhances your appeal as a prospective employer.

Ready to see how skills-based hiring can efficiently meet your organization’s talent needs? Get in touch with us today.

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