IPC and US DOL Workforce Partnership: An In-Depth Analysis

Created: April 29, 2024
Updated: July 1, 2024
IPC and US DOL Workforce Partnership: An In-Depth Analysis

“Effective government-industry collaboration can overcome the talent shortage facing our industry, build the strongest American tech workforce possible, and unleash the full potential of semiconductor innovation.”— Matt Johnson, president and CEO of Silicon Labs and SIA board chair.

Finally, a step in the right direction, some help in developing your workforce and unleashing potential, courtesy of IPC International Inc., a global association of electronics industry manufacturers and suppliers, in the form of an apprenticeship program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The partnership between DOL and IPC aligns both parties with their efforts to develop a stronger electronics workforce, helping to connect workers with jobs created by the CHIPs and Science Act and President Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda.

The program mirrors earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship models seen in industries such as plumbing and HVAC to expand and diversify pathways into good jobs and careers in advanced manufacturing, enabling organizations to work through IPC to secure local, state, and federal dollars to develop their workforce. The agreement also enables IPC to offer paid training and experiential learning opportunities to recruit, train, and retrain the skilled workers needed to build electronic components.

“More than two-thirds of IPC’s U.S. members report that an inability to find and retain skilled workers is limiting their growth and global competitiveness,” said John W. Mitchell, IPC president and CEO. “The Department of Labor’s endorsement of IPC’s apprenticeship standards will help foster a larger, more skilled, and more diverse workforce. We are excited about the positive impacts on workers, their communities, and the electronics manufacturing industry.”

Fighting an Aging Workforce: The Imperativeness of Knowledge Sharing

An alarming statistic: In 2022, nearly one-third of the manufacturing workforce was over 55 years of age (Deloitte).

Electronics production is a complex world requiring implicit, tacit (garnered from personal experience and context), and explicit knowledge. Roles aren’t often ones that can be stepped into quickly—big shoes steeped in knowledge and experience are hard to fill. Industry jargon, the technical complexities of electronic components, the nuances of the electronics components supply chain, and the ins and outs of machinery set up all take time to master.

As the workforce continues to grow older, no matter how company knowledge is defined, capturing, sharing, and making it accessible is critical to maintaining the skills, expertise, and tribal knowledge upon which your company was built and is imperative to maintaining and enhancing our united capabilities.

However, the proficiency and specialized technical skills required to manufacture electronic components simply aren’t adequately gained through education alone. They require hands-on experience, related technical instruction, and a strong mentor/mentee relationship that ensures successful succession, all of which can be made available through government-approved apprenticeship programs.

An engineer and his apprectice
The mentor/mentee relationship is the underpinning of apprentice development and successful succession planning that retains and builds upon the skills and culture of a company. 

An apprenticeship program that combines formal training and education, the guidance of a mentor who imparts esoteric knowledge and vast industry experience, along with relevant hard and soft skills to the mentoree through on-the-job learning, builds a competent, capable workforce ready to take on the industry challenges that lay ahead—a company and industry win.

For the employee, an apprenticeship is a financially viable way to accelerate their career path, allowing them to earn an income while enhancing their value and marketability with industry and nationally-recognized credentials—a personal win for employees.

It’s a win/ win/ win for companies, employees, and an industry that’s attempting to outpace an aging workforce and keep up with the pace of innovation. 

IPC: Helping you to Face the Workforce Challenge by Making Apprenticeship Programs Easy

More than two-thirds of IPC’s U.S. members report that an inability to find and retain skilled workers is limiting their growth and competitiveness. 

The seriousness of the workforce challenges facing the electronics industry isn’t a secret. Onshoring CHIP manufacturing, an aging and shifting workforce, and growing demand for semiconductors have converged into the perfect storm.

A study prepared for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) by Oxford Economics showed the U.S. semiconductor industry faces a shortfall of roughly 67,000 workers by 2030.

A talent deficit threatens a company's market stance, impacts its competitive advantage, and deters growth. Expanding and upskilling the workforce should be a top priority for anyone in the industry.

In an interview with Michelle Te, Cory Blaylock, director of workforce partnerships at IPC and a key player in this achievement, says IPC has made it easier for companies to adopt an apprenticeship program without all the red tape and “rigamarole” required for a registered apprenticeship due to the rules and regulations of the Department of Labor.

Cory Blaylock also recently sat down with Zach Peterson on the Altium OnTrack Podcast to discuss these apprenticeship efforts, how industry has reacted or demanded these programs, and what the career trajectory looks like for participants. Readers can listen to the full interview below.

To address the needs of electronic manufacturers and the industry, IPC has developed National Program Standards and Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs), offering programs for Electronics Assemblers and PCB Fabricators, two industry-critical occupations.

If you’re an electronics manufacturer, this is an opportunity to access, attract, develop, and retain talent and secure the skills you need for growth.

If you’re an employee, this is your chance to step into a well-developed career pathway in the electronics manufacturing industry.

From IPC:

What is IPC's Registered Apprenticeship Program?

Built by and for the electronics industry, IPC’s Registered Apprenticeship Programs (IPC RAPs) are competency-based apprenticeships aimed at growing the productivity of the electronics manufacturing workforce.

Program Design

The IPC’s Registered Apprenticeship Program (IPC’s RAP) provides employers with a proven talent development solution for onboarding or upskilling Electronics Assemblers. It also provides apprentices with a point of entry into a well-developed career pathway in the electronics manufacturing industry. Like all registered apprenticeship programs, IPC’s RAP requires employers to provide apprentices with:

Employers have control over the selection of who becomes an apprentice. IPC’s Workforce Partnerships team will assist in finding possible apprentices by identifying local workforce agencies and other community-based organizations that may be sources of talent. The apprentice will be a full-time employee, NOT part-time, and eligible for merit-based wage increases over the term of the program.

On-the-Job Learning Experiences

The employer agrees to provide the apprentice with on-the-job learning (OJL) coupled with the necessary coursework that leads to a satisfactory understanding and performance of the position’s technical competencies.

Related Technical Instruction

The apprenticeship program is based on IPC industry input and credential/certification requirements and the O*NET description of the occupation Electronics Assembler or PCB Fabricator and has been approved by the Department of Labor.   Modifications to the program can be explored on an individual employer basis. IPC expects it will take the apprentice approximately 12 months or 2,000 hours to complete the program; this may vary depending on the apprentice’s previous learning and work experiences and the employer’s requirements.

Apprentices will also be expected to demonstrate a variety of behavioral competencies, many of which are considered employability skills, that should be directed by each company’s culture through the On-the-Job-Learning (OJL) with the help of the supervisor/mentor.


Included in the Electronics Assembler apprenticeship is 175 hours of required technical instruction aligned with the outlined competencies. This instruction can be delivered virtually and/or in person. 

CORE COURSES cover topics for which all apprentices must demonstrate competency. An employer may determine that the apprentice already has sufficient knowledge in some of these areas, which would reduce the number of technical instruction hours required.

  Find more on costs, mentoring, and other program details directly from IPC.

Related Resources

Back to Home
Thank you, you are now subscribed to updates.