Back in February of this year, we launched SEMI Works™, a landmark SEMI program designed to grow and sustain the electronics industry talent pipeline from the ground up. But it was much more than a program launch. The introduction was a resounding statement of our passionate commitment to workforce development and its incontrovertible importance to the future of the microelectronics industry.
No one’s passion for workforce development burns brighter than SEMI CEO Ajit Manocha’s. In April, he reiterated SEMI’s focus to make good on this commitment and laid out the broad outlines of SEMI Works.
From the outset, our sights have been firmly fixed on execution. The National Science Foundation (NSF), a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in science and engineering, recently lent its support to SEMI Works with a $6 million investment to develop a scalable, sustainable apparatus to meet current and future talent requirements of the end-to-end electronics manufacturing industry. And more financial backing – this time from abroad – could well be in the offing.
We are pressing ahead to develop the infrastructure to connect talent, industry and education providers at scale. We are expanding proven programs for exciting and engaging students in experiential learning opportunities at a young age. And we are paving the way to offer career and educational pathways through high school, college and adult and veteran training.
Regional partners are essential to scaling these programs, and to date we have identified three regions for pilots to develop the infrastructure and business model that will be heartbeat of SEMI Works.
Moore’s Law is losing steam, raising hard questions about the semiconductor industry’s ability to maintain its swift pace of innovation. The clarion call for chipmakers is to design ever smaller electronic circuits with higher processing power for devices with shrinking form factors. More computing muscle is crucial to advances in smart manufacturing, medtech, quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and the IoT – all technologies that generate and consume staggering amounts of data.
Yet no obstacle to industry growth stands as tall as the brick wall of the talent shortage. A highly skilled workforce is essential to invention. As an industry, we’ll only be equal to the world’s greatest challenges by recruiting, training and retaining the best and brightest.
At this critical juncture in what is the world’s most strategic industry, the public and private sectors must work collaboratively to leverage their collective strength to produce the talent required to power technology development today and well into the future.
In 2020 SEMI will mark 50 years of facilitating collaborations to mint new technologies and markets. We are uniquely positioned, with our members, to lead what history may one day record as our most important effort to date, a push that could impact the world for decades to come. The industry needs a lasting solution to expand and sustain its talent pipeline. SEMI is taking decisive action with SEMI Works.
Mike Russo is vice president of Global Industry Advocacy at SEMI.