Case Study: Automotive Tech School to High-Tech Manufacturing

Company Profile
A leading U.S.-based corporation in Boise, Idaho producing various semiconductor devices.

Recruiting Challenges
The semiconductor industry faces fierce competition for skilled technical resources. Additionally, a large percentage of the current U.S. workforce is inching toward retirement age.

Business Challenge
The Northwest is a desirable place to live, and has become a technology hub. The semiconductor industry (and suppliers) in Idaho’s tech environment must be competitive and resourceful to bring in technicians and engineers.

 NSTAR Solution
Where to find new talent to bring into the industry? Our clients regularly leverage the depth of NSTAR’s network to find and develop talent for high-volume manufacturing and OEM functions.

NSTAR’s Boise-based Key Account Operations Manager, Bruce Schulte, identified that Boise has a local technical college with an automotive technology program. Typically speaking, graduates would normally be hired by dealerships and/or automotive mechanic businesses local to the area.

Very familiar with the semiconductor industry, Schulte and his colleague, Lance Reynolds, realized that the skill sets of automotive grads could easily be transferable to technician-level positions in a semiconductor fab. Technicians are key to fab operations, and automotive grads have achieved a level of technical knowledge that can also place them directly in semiconductor manufacturing and/or OEM facility.

It started with the client agreeing with NSTAR’s assessment that these grads offered a potential solution to fill open technician positions. The initial phase saw the client bring on one automotive-technology grad, and with the success of that initial candidate, the client allowed NSTAR to expand the program. The number has grown to 12, with the manufacturer selecting three techs to join their team directly.

To earn an associate of applied science degree in automotive technology takes 24 months—each graduating class has approximately 25 students; thus, over the course of this relationship, approximately 24% of the last two graduating classes have received an opportunity to work in high-tech manufacturing.

The local economy benefits, as do the graduates (as well as NSTAR’s client). Students are getting an opportunity to enter a labor force that needs depth and that provides an opportunity for advancement due to the increased demand for technology. The students also look forward to a higher-than-expected starting salary. According to, the median starting wage for an automotive technician is $14 per hour; however, the starting wage for NSTAR techs is $18.00 or more.

What This Means to NSTAR Clients
NSTAR clients regularly see the benefits of an expansive technical network, from high-level engineers and project managers to the technician level. Our network also reaches the technical professors within local economies, which enables an employment “pipeline.” This case highlights NSTAR’s ability to develop a stronger relationship with the client and its community—keeping locally educated talent in the region and diversifying the employment force in an industry that needs technical resources.

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