There is no digital without chips. Semiconductor chips are crucial to key digital technologies of the future, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G and edge computing, as set out in the EU’s 2030 Digital Decade. The European Commission proposed the EU Chips Act to develop a thriving semiconductor ecosystem, a resilient supply chain and to support skilling and reskilling initiatives in microelectronics.
In her 2021 State of the Union speech, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new EU Chips Act, to jointly create a state-of-the-art European chip ecosystem and strengthen the Union’s technological sovereignty.
On 8 February 2022 the European Commission proposed this new strategy: the European Chips Act. The strategy aims to ensure that the EU has the necessary tools, skills and technological capabilities to become a leader in the semiconductor sector, beyond research and technology in design, manufacturing and packaging of advanced chips.
Thanks to the European Chips Act, the EU will be able to address semiconductor shortages and strengthen Europe’s technological leadership. The strategy will mobilise more than € 43 billion of public and private investments and set measures to prepare, anticipate and quickly respond to any future supply chain disruptions.
To reach these ambitious goals, Europe will need a skilled workforce in the microelectronics sector. In fact, the demand for talent in electronics has been increasing in the last 20 years, with the European microelectronics industry being directly responsible for 455,000 high-skilled jobs in 2018. The main challenge for the sector is then to attract and retain highly skilled talent. To do this, access to state-of-the-art design and manufacturing equipment used by the industry, as well as more training for students on real-life business problems are needed.
Strengthening educational programmes for upskilling in the microelectronics sector
One of the main pillars of the Chips for Europe Initiative is to support education, training, skilling and reskilling initiatives to promote the creation of a skilled workforce in the European production of semiconductor chips. In particular, the actions will support access to postgraduate programmes in microelectronics, short-term training courses, job placements/traineeships and apprenticeships, training in advanced laboratories, etc.
Moreover, the Initiative will support a network of competence centres, located across all Europe, that will provide access to technical expertise and experimentation in the area of semiconductors, helping companies, SMEs in particular, to approach and improve design capabilities and developing skills. These centres are meant to become poles of attraction for innovation and new talent, increasing Europe’s technological attractiveness for semiconductor manufacturing. They will address the skills shortage, attracting and mobilising new talent and supporting the emergence of a suitably skilled workforce for strengthening the semiconductor sector, including via reskilling and upskilling of workers.
The network of competence centres will help to raise awareness and provide the necessary knowhow, expertise and skills to the stakeholders for helping them accelerate the development and integration of new semiconductor technologies. Also, it will facilitate the transfer of expertise between Member States and regions encouraging exchanges of skills, knowledge and good practices and the implementation of joint education programmes.
To reach these goals, Member States are also invited to strengthen their national skills strategies in microelectronics, including those reflected in the national reform plans.
© European Union, 2022.
Source: EC – Audiovisual Service