What CHIPS Is & How It’s Going to Effect the Higher Education Labor Force

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Having been enacted by President Joe Biden in August 2022 after a rare display of bipartisan support, the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act is now official. The act addresses the country’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) needs while boosting America’s innovation, national security, and competitiveness. The law also presents an array of opportunities for higher education institutions, with part of its funding package going into training, research, and talent development.

How Does the CHIPS and Science Act Affect Higher Education?

The CHIPS and Science Act recognizes how inequitable funding affects research and innovation in higher education institutions. As such, the new legislation has approved new financing models for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), Emerging Research Institutions (ERIs), and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Here’s a breakdown of how the CHIPS Act will benefit higher education.

National Science Foundation

The CHIPS Act allocates $81 billion to the National Science Foundation (NSF) over five years, increasing the organization’s appropriations from $9 billion in 2022 to approximately $18.9 billion by the 2027 fiscal year. HBCUs, MSIs, and tribal colleges can compete for NSF grants of up to $200 million in the 2023 fiscal year and $250 million in the following years until 2027. Emerging Research Institutions (colleges and universities with below $50 million in research spending) will also benefit from a five-year pilot project, with 35% of this program’s awards going into one or more emerging research institutions.

Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships

Over $16 billion will create a Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships to support research commercialization in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, material science, and energy. Social sciences are not to be excluded—the new directorate will develop domestic talent in areas of geostrategic, national, and societal importance. This is in addition to foundational research financing for sustainable chemistry, IT and behavioral health, precision agriculture, and critical minerals.

Student Scholarships

Besides research, part of the CHIPS and Science Act allocations will support graduate and undergraduate education, mostly funding new student scholarships for various fields. Note that the funding is meant to empower historically underrepresented populations—low-income students in HBCUs, MSIs, and community colleges can apply for NSF scholarships worth around $100 million. Furthermore, the CHIPS and Science Act includes educational grants to support student attraction and retention in STEM fields.

Department of Commerce Tech Hubs

This law seeks to expand geographical participation by recognizing the role of higher education institutions beyond campus. The CHIPS Act, via the Department of Commerce, has set aside $10 billion for 20 geographically distributed tech hubs. These regional centers will be collaborations between universities, community organizations, for-profit companies, and federal and local authorities and will support the development and execution of innovation strategies.

Remember, funding will be competitive rather than uniform—institutions have to be proactive about their financing bid to stand out. That includes reviewing the CHIPS and Science Act to better understand funding requirements. Institutions might miss out on direct grants and sponsored projects, but they can still benefit from funding through national lab collaborations. 

Using Talent Communities to Meet Higher Education Labor Force Needs

Part of the CHIPS and Science Act’s mandate is building a workforce for semiconductor research, manufacturing, and development. But as the legislation funds STEM education and talent development, colleges and universities need a solid higher education labor force to better utilize this financing. Like other sectors, higher ed institutions are struggling to find quality talent with traditional recruitment strategies.

According to a past Chronicle of Higher Education survey, the higher education labor force faces the following challenges:

  • 79% of respondents had more vacancies than in the past year
  • 77% were less interested in working in higher education than in the past year
  • 50% lacked proper structures to manage the modern workforce
  • 78% couldn’t attract or retain talent because of fewer job applications
  • 78% weren’t attracting qualified candidates

Fortunately, you can build your higher education labor force with a talent community. This is a network of professionals with dedicated qualifications. In most cases, individuals in talent communities possess shared competencies and interests in a particular industry and have interacted with the company at some point through events, newsletters, and online conversations. Talent communities are based on long-term relationships, with employers contacting candidates when opportunities arise.

Not to be confused with talent pools and talent pipelines. A talent pool is a group of individuals with skills that are relevant to an organization. Companies often use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to maintain their talent pools and rely on various methods to source candidates, including job boards, social media, and employee referrals.

On the other hand, a talent pipeline represents a targeted hiring process that matches company objectives with specific skill sets. Employers may apply varying recruitment criteria, for example, academic history and experience with specific companies and job roles. 

Building Your Higher Education Labor Force With nextSource

At nextSource, we’re constantly reinventing our direct sourcing strategies to keep up with the ever-changing labor market. Direct sourcing refers to the process of hiring contingents, freelancers, and other temporary workers without relying on third-party recruiters. But for us, it’s more than just direct sourcing to fill your vacancies—our nextSourcing package connects you with a talent community that discharges their duties according to your values and company culture.

Even better, our TalentCalling solution is specifically designed for the higher education labor force. Thanks to our centralized online system, we can pre-qualify candidates with in-demand skills and empower them to succeed across the higher ed space. Our TalentCalling community boasts various professionals, including:

  • Exam proctors
  • General managers
  • Teaching assistants
  • Student success specialists
  • Admissions personnel
  • Instructional designers
  • Administrative assistants
  • Research assistants
  • Application readers

We can also connect you with non-academic personnel such as project managers, software developers, and implementation managers.  

Looking to Grow Your Higher Education Labor Force?

If you’re tired of wasting time and money on the wrong recruitment strategies, it’s time you considered nextSource TalentCalling. Our direct sourcing approach is based on our understanding of the academic landscape and the unique challenges of attracting and retaining talent. We combine various sourcing, marketing, and assessment strategies to promote innovation through a diverse labor force. Contact us to learn more about TalentCalling and how you can use it for your higher education workforce needs.

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