Actions to Tackle European Chip Industry Skills Shortage

SEMI, the industry association serving the global electronics design and manufacturing supply chain, announced key actions proposed by SEMI Europe and European Commission (EC) representatives in consultation with semiconductor industry stakeholders to overcome the skills shortage in Europe’s microelectronics industry. The actions resulted from a December 2 workshop held in Brussels to support the European Chips Act and address challenges and future opportunities for developing skills critical to Europe’s semiconductor ecosystem.

The workshop marked the first meeting among SEMI Europe representatives, Lucilla Sioli, Director of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry in Directorate-General CONNECT at the European Commission, and more than 80 semiconductor industry stakeholders including representatives from SEMI Europe member companies to discuss key projects under the Pact for Skills for Microelectronics.

Workshop participants including SEMI members Bosch, imec, Intel and onsemi underscored the urgent need for training facilities, STEM graduates and a more diverse workforce, while market research firm Decision Etude and Conseil presented its recent METIS4Skills Strategy 2022 annual update. The report points to a worsening of the talent shortage in Europe since 2020.

The European Chips Act heightens the focus on the need for process engineers, maintenance technicians, process technicians and other semiconductor manufacturing workers.

“We thank the European Commission for its continuous support and collaboration with the semiconductor industry in strengthening Europe’s microelectronics skills ecosystem,” said Laith Altimime, president of SEMI Europe, who participated in the workshop with Christopher Frieling, director of Advocacy and Public Policy at SEMI Europe. “The European semiconductor industry must diversify its talent pool, an effort that requires funding so Europe can develop a sustainable workforce.”

Chip industry stakeholders participating in the workshop in person and virtually discussed common roadblocks to hiring, shared best workforce development practices and highlighted successes of EC, national and semiconductor industry skills initiatives. The participants generated a comprehensive list of actions geared toward improving the image of the semiconductor sector to attract students and young talent, re-skilling and upskilling workers, and sustaining the push for a diverse and inclusive workforce in Europe.

As part of the Erasmus+ project METIS, SEMI Europe will publish a summary of the workshop outcomes and recommendations for concrete follow-up actions in the first quarter of 2023. Examples of actions include:

  • Create an industry image campaign to raise public awareness on how technology is shaping the future, and how workers can establish careers in the semiconductor industry.
  • Remove barriers to entry in the industry for top university graduates in part by retooling immigration policies that affect the microelectronics sector.
  • Harmonize workforce development initiatives within Europe and create a European University Network for Microelectronics with a focus on internship and work opportunities for students.  
  • Inspire children and teenagers to pursue a STEM education, recruit more STEM teachers, attract female teenagers to STEM, and replicate existing talent development initiatives for the microelectronics industry such as competitions for European teenagers to design chips.

The workshop materials are available on the European Commission website. Once the EU Chips Act is enacted, the European Commission will host a second session to refine the actions that emerged from the initial workshop in order to help identify funding opportunities to support skills development in Europe, work that will support 2023 European Year of Skills initiatives.

Visit SEMI Global Advocacy to learn more about public policy efforts and developments, and SEMI Workforce Development for more information on efforts to address the microelectronics industry’s talent needs.