On the day I joined SEMI in March of 2017, I was filled with excitement to be on-boarding at a time when great, leaping strides in innovation were driving the rapid expansion of our ecosystem. In my many conversations with members that followed, I was not surprised that a vast majority ranked among their top concerns the persistent challenge of attracting, training and retaining the talent needed to grow their businesses.
Later that year, I raised the global talent shortage issue in my article Securing Talent to Connect, Collaborate and Innovate. As an industry veteran I knew that the decades-long workforce development challenge will only worsen with the proliferation and increasing complexity of technology.
Innovation has never been more technology-intensive. Developing the technology and producing the components required for applications powering next-generation communications (5G), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things (IoT) require bright minds in diverse fields of science to fill critical positions in the global electronics manufacturing industry. Today, that talent struggle is acute, threatening to undermine our industry’s potential to grow to $1 trillion by 2030.
The electronics industry needs a comprehensive, integrated program to build the talent pipeline. The program should inspire school-age children to adult learners to pursue careers in this great but underrecognized industry. It needs to shine a spotlight on career opportunities. It must prepare workers with standardized skills sets transferable across the industry. And it must connect trained workers with hiring companies.
SEMI is uniquely positioned to deliver this solution.
Launched almost two years to the day after I joined SEMI, SEMI Works is SEMI’s branded workforce development initiative. We realize that trade associations don’t create jobs. Their members do. Think of SEMI Works as SEMI’s commitment to build and maintain the needed infrastructure – the talent pipeline.
SEMI Works is comprehensive. The program, supported by SEMI members, is a wide-ranging effort by our Global Advocacy team to ensure education is demand-driven, training programs better meet the needs of the industry, more people pursue careers in electronics and our members have access to the talent pool that we are cultivating. With SEMI Works, SEMI is developing scalable solutions to improve connections among training and education providers, prospective workers and the industry. Key features of SEMI Works will include SEMI-certified education courses and training programs linked to industry requirements and skills credentialing for workers.
SEMI Works starts with raising awareness of SEMI-certified programs as a key bridge connecting prospective talent, the industry and applicable training and education programs. Growing awareness of the programs will enable SEMI to build an extensive database of employers and qualified talent and link both to the right training.
SEMI will continue to drive and endorse programs that help meet member needs throughout the education continuum – from K-4 to higher education and adult training. But the infrastructure and ecosystem required to support and scale these programs is the key for all of us to win together.
At a high level, SEMI Works consists of several important components:
- Linking the required industry competencies to education and training course curriculum – Similar to the establishment of SEMI standards, SEMI will certify education and training programs that dovetail with the industry competency model. Initial certification and annual re-certification ensure continued updates, relevance and sustainability of the programs. SEMI will raise awareness of SEMI Works certified programs as the standard for meeting the industry’s talent requirements.
- Developing and maintaining the electronics industry competency model – Through established working groups and ongoing dialogue with our members, we are developing a competency model – a tiered matrix of required competencies used to link course curriculum to the talent needs of employers. The competency model consists of interpersonal and individual skills, academic and general industry requirements, advanced manufacturing competencies, and competencies by job. SEMI will establish and maintain the model with regular updates.
- Improving access to talent – Through SEMI Works, SEMI will build an extensive database that brings together programs, talent and employers. People and organizations opting into a SEMI-certified program or acquiring a SEMI program certification will be part of the SEMI database. Job seekers will be able to set up a profile and resume and search for training and employment opportunities, and employers will search the talent pool – much as job-search sites work today – assured of a skills match based on the SEMI certification.
I am passionate about education and proud of all of SEMI’s efforts. I am especially proud of the work we are doing to help provide a pathway to meaningful careers for children and adults all around the world. We no longer have the luxury of a piecemeal approach to training and education.
It is my hope and belief that SEMI Works, together with our efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the workforce, will be SEMI’s lasting mark on the global electronics industry.
Ajit Manocha is president and CEO of SEMI.