METIS, a Sector Skills Alliance project co-funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Program and coordinated by SEMI, recently launched an online questionnaire aimed at gauging the skills and expertise the industry needs to drive continued growth over the next five years. The survey, which will stay online until 15 October 2020, is a part of the METIS project’s efforts to involve a broad range of stakeholders in the microelectronics industry to assess workforce, future technology and economic trends influencing talent development and the skills needed most today and in the next five years. The survey aims to highlight the skill mismatches in specific job profiles that are of increasing importance to the microelectronics industry. It elaborates on the upskilling and reskilling needs for design engineers. Given that semiconductor design is becoming increasingly crucial for Europe’s competitiveness and technological sovereignty, the new skills required from design engineers are a priority area for the METIS project. Other examples are the manufacturing and maintenance technicians, two job profiles that are currently experiencing significant shifts in their skillsets, as COVID-19 has thoroughly transformed their way of work.
While the microelectronics industry has been very aware of the importance of the high level of investment in R&D, it is equally crucial to ensure that the workforce of the industry is equipped with knowledge and skills for the rapid technological developments. Maintaining high levels of investment in workforce including attracting talent, updating their knowledge and skills with the latest technological development, and supporting them to lead innovations, is essential for this industry. There is a growing demand for specific requirements for this sector to support innovation in many other sectors such as automotive, energy, healthcare, and government, to foster benefits from emerging digital technologies such as Cloud Services, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Reality, and Blockchain.
In addition to the online questionnaire, the METIS project consortium is interviewing top experts from leading microelectronics companies, education representatives from universities and training academies, and experts from government agencies and industry associations. The interview outcomes provide inputs on what kind of employee profiles are the most difficult to find, what skills this sector is looking for in a candidate, and what kind of training and policy frameworks are needed to improve employers’ skills. Those inputs are essential to develop the skill strategy and form recommendations on training modules.
Furthermore, the METIS project consortium is organizing 10 focus groups. Each of the focus groups is dedicated to a key topic, such as SC design, SC materials, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, etc. For example, one of the METIS focus groups is dedicated to Edge AI, a top priority for the microelectronics industry. Strengthening the AI talent pipeline is essential to harness the potential of Edge AI in Europe and to facilitate the shift from the Cloud to the Edge when possible in order to meet specific demands (e.g. for autonomous driving), reduce energy consumption for data communications, and to increase efficiency. The EU’s White Paper “Artificial Intelligence - A European approach to excellence and trust” , published this February, also emphasizes the importance of upskilling and reskilling to position Europe among the global leaders in AI. Hence, the focus group will work towards pinpointing the skills necessary for the semiconductor workforce to capture the potential of the trend.
The results of the survey, interviews and focus groups will be used to form the Microelectronics Skills Strategy. Based on this strategy, the METIS project will design 43 training modules for 1,100 hours learning in four key areas of the microelectronics sector:
- Component design
- System design
- Basic of manufacturing
- Key competencies and innovative thinking
The METIS project is planning to recruit 2,000 learners in companies and education and training institutes to participate in the trainings and validate the impact. The METIS project will also work with companies, education and training providers to ensure continuity of the initiative and foster cooperation.
During the METIS project course (2019 – 2023), the Skills Strategy will be updated yearly to reflect the latest technology and market trends. To enable the Skills Strategy to continue serving the industry, METIS is working on forming a permanent instrument, named Observatory and Skills Council, to continue developing the skills strategy, update the training and facilitate cooperation between industry and education and training providers.
Laith Altimime, president of SEMI Europe, and 50 members of the Microelectronics Training, Industry and Skills (METIS) consortium
The METIS consortium invites companies and associations involved in microelectronics training and education provision, human resources and career services professionals, technology strategists and policy makers to complete the online questionnaire. Stakeholders are also welcome to subscribe to the METIS newsletter for the latest on METIS programs. For more details, please contact Yanying Li at email@example.com.
 EU’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/commission-white-paper-artificial-intelligence-feb2020_en.pdf
Dr. Yanying Li is senior manager of Collaborative Projects at SEMI Europe.