As the global economy is constantly transformed, the need for new skills has never been higher. The microelectronics industry is thoroughly affected by this urgent need. To develop a workforce fit for the future, it is crucial to invest not only in reskilling and upskilling, but also in skills anticipation and inclusivity.
To tackle this need, the European microelectronics ecosystem has adopted many bottom-up initiatives and good practices supporting lifelong learning. Many companies collaborate with universities and training institutes to offer work-based training, and numerous events take place to support women participation in STEM and to attract more young talent to a microelectronics career.
Despite these great efforts, further pooling of investments is necessary if Europe is to develop efficient lifelong learning programs. Creating strong skills partnerships is vital for sustainable upskilling and reskilling initiatives. According to the World Economic Forum (2021), greater private-public collaboration on large-scale upskilling and reskilling initiatives could boost global GDP by $6.5 trillion and lead to the creation of 5.3 million net new jobs by 2030.
What is the Skills Partnership?
Against this backdrop, SEMI Europe is launching the Skills Partnership for Microelectronics. The partnership brings together industrial and education partners from the microelectronics ecosystem to implement the Pact for Skills, an EU initiative which aims to boost upskilling and reskilling investments in key ecosystems for Europe’s competitiveness. Following the high-level roundtable with SEMI Europe’s Advisory Board, hosted by European Commissioners Thierry Breton and Nicolas Schmit, the microelectronics sector was selected in November 2020 as one of the key ecosystems for the first wave of implementation of the Pact, alongside automotive and aerospace/defense. Read more details about the October 2020 roundtable.
59 partners have already endorsed the Pact for Skills for Microelectronics.
The Skills Partnership for Microelectronics aims to:
- Exchange good practices of upskilling and reskilling initiatives of the microelectronics industry
- Develop sustainable collaboration mechanisms that will monitor microelectronics skill needs, learning from the examples of the METIS blueprint project
- Promote the microelectronics sector as a career choice
- Boost the presence of women and other under-represented groups in the sector.
The partners will have the opportunity to liaise not only with European, but also with national and regional authorities and clusters, so that a pan-European holistic approach to microelectronics skills development is achieved, and a significant flux of public and private investments on skills is mobilized.
To launch this ambitious partnership, SEMI Europe held an initial workshop on March 17. Participants included representatives from the European Commission’s DG Connect, DG Employment and DG Grow, national and regional authorities, and over 70 industry and education partners.
The workshop opened with representatives from the European Commission informing all stakeholders about the Pact for Skills initiative, as well as about EU skills-related funding opportunities. In the framework of the Pact for Skills, the Commission will support the ecosystems with a Networking Hub, a Knowledge Hub and a Guidance & Resources Hub. These platforms will be available later in 2021 and will act as a one-stop-shop to support the partners and provide information on EU policies and funding opportunities.
Other presentations went on to set the scene, presenting the main priorities of the partnership. Françoise Chombar, CEO of Melexis, highlighted the skills challenge experienced by the microelectronics industry. She emphasized the importance of lifelong learning and the danger of the gender disbalance in the sector and underlined the huge innovation potential and profitability that could be unleashed for Europe if the gender gap is successfully addressed. Moreover, the preliminary results of the METIS Microelectronics Skills Strategy were presented, to offer the basis for the partnership’s approach to skills anticipation. The partnership will establish working groups that will investigate the industry needs, leading to a better connection with the offer of education and training programs.
Last but not least, the partnership aims to promote national and regional funding of upskilling and reskilling initiatives. In this regard, representatives from national and regional authorities and clusters participated in the meeting. The government of the Basque region had an active role, presenting the region’s priorities, incentives and main actions on promotion of lifelong learning initiatives.
The next steps
The meeting concluded with an overview of the next steps for the newly launched partnership. In the next workshop, the partners will align on the specific KPIs, as well as on the focus areas where they would like to engage (skills anticipation in semiconductor manufacturing, skills anticipation in semiconductor design, gender balance, etc.).
In that framework, the executive board will be established, as well as the working groups that will lead the work of the partnership and set targeted objectives.
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Stefania Gavra is public affairs manager at SEMI Europe.