Efforts on behalf of the federal government to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing have taken the form of the CHIPS & Science Act, which provides billions in funding to bolster capacity, boost R&D, add regional high-tech hubs and facilitate a larger, more inclusive STEM workforce.
And while this legislation is credited for the wave of greenfield investment in chip plants that’s followed, it hasn’t been able to remove every barrier.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. recently announced a challenge that will push back the estimated kickoff of its $12 billion plant in Arizona.
Major companies like Apple have already announced plans to use the 5-nanometer chips that TSMC will produce at this plant, where production was set to begin in 2024.
Unfortunately, the chipmaker revealed a delay in those plans, citing a lack of the skilled workers needed to finish the job on time.
TSMC said that they can’t find enough workers with the skills to install advanced equipment, and the resulting delays will likely push the plant’s online date all the way to 2025.
TSMC’s chairman Mark Liu told analysts on an earnings call that the company is attempting to send technicians from Taiwan with the plan for them to train local workers to help accelerate installation. This falls in line with other reports that TSMC had been assembling a “task force” of more than 500 experienced workers with the intention of providing assistance in setting up the complex, specialized equipment.
Nikkei Asia also cited additional reasons for the delay – including higher-than-expected construction costs and weakening market demand for chips, something TSMC has admitted as they say customers are working through excess inventories.
In March, Patrick Ptak, senior vice president of executive initiatives at the Arizona Commerce Authority told Axios Phoenix that, since February 2021, 24 semiconductor-related companies have announced plans to expand or relocate to Arizona.