King’s, Arm, and UKESF partner to tackle UK semiconductor skills shortage

7th December 2023
Sheryl Miles

The Department of Engineering has partnered with UK-headquartered semiconductor design and software platform company Arm and the UK Electronic Skills Foundation (UKESF) in a £500,000 UK Research and Innovation funded programme to address the semiconductor skills gap in the UK.

As a part of the Semiconductor Education Alliance, founded by Arm earlier this year, the programme will establish a Semiconductor Industry MSc at King’s to empower the next generation of engineers with newly developed modules, set in new industry standard semiconductor education labs. Focussing specifically on semiconductor technology and developed in partnership with researchers at Arm, this new course will be delivered by specifically recruited semiconductor expert staff from across academia and industry.

Following the release of the UK government’s £1 billion National Semiconductor Strategy in May this year, semiconductors have been recognised as a key strategic priority for the technology sector.

Semiconductors are a vital part of electronic devices from laptops to phones and ventilators, and the UK is investing in robust R&D programmes, rapid upskilling, and expanding domestic production to compete with global semiconductor producers and shield the country from supply chain shortages.

Dr Tayebeh Mousavi, Lecturer in Engineering at the Department of Engineering and principal investigator and lead on the project suggests at its heart, this is a skills issue: “It is vital for the UK to be able to compete on the world stage in this critical field, but to do that we need to empower the next generation of engineers and practitioners. At present, when engineers leave university, they must be significantly upskilled when they enter industry for the first time as they learn to adapt to a fast-changing field.

“The skills gap is evolving all the time, and universities and business need to come together to equip students with the right skillset and the right knowledge to make an impact from day one. By offering a hands-on curriculum built in partnership with leading industry forces like Arm in new bespoke semiconductor labs, we can go beyond theoretical knowledge to the practical skills that will meet the expectations of future employers.

“A constantly maturing curriculum that changes to keep pace with industry developments year-on-year is not something that has been done previously and gives our students a competitive edge.”

“We all recognise the semiconductor industry’s global strategic importance, but the availability of the right skills in the existing workforce could be a significant barrier to future growth and innovation,” said Khaled Benkrid, Senior Director, Education and Research at Arm. “Through the Semiconductor Education Alliance and partnerships such as this one with King’s, we are building new levels of collaboration and scalable solutions that not only address the skills gap, but also put the UK at the centre of a vibrant technology ecosystem.”

Alongside its role in shaping the curriculum at King’s, Arm will also be enabling a series of online semiconductor relevant courses aimed at learners globally. Created and accredited by King’s and delivered in partnership with online education platforms, the courses will provide certification for those wishing to upskill in the job market.

The project will also allow King’s to extend its collaboration with the UKESF, expanding out its current industrial placement programme to post-graduate students, as well as playing a key role in generating workshops and seminars to facilitate knowledge exchange on developments in the field.  

Reflecting on the impact of the programme, Professor Claire Lucas, Co-Investigator on the project said: “The semiconductor industry requires multi-skilled engineers and problem solvers from a range of backgrounds including electronics, quality, material science, manufacturing, and heat transfer.

“King’s are leaders in multidisciplinary experiential engineering education and this project will allow us to support discipline hopping for students coming from a more traditional electronic or mechanical background. Complimented by state-of-the-art practical facilities the programme will support the breadth of semiconductor curricula enhanced by the collaboration with Arm.”

Product Spotlight

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2024 Electronic Specifier