The semiconductor industry’s global strategic importance is more widely understood than ever before, and this increased recognition is unlocking tens of billions of dollars of investment in all aspects of the semiconductor space: from design to fabrication and deployment. The opportunity for growth and innovation is clear – but the availability of the right skills in the workforce could be a significant barrier to progress. In my role leading the central engineering organization at Arm, this is a hot topic for myself and my peers and colleagues across the business – and we believe the answer lies in stronger cross-industry/academia collaboration.
Today, Arm is announcing a new global initiative known as the Semiconductor Education Alliance, with support from partners including Arduino, Cadence, Cornell University, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, STMicroelectronics, Synopsys, Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute, the All-India Council for Technical Education, and the University of Southampton. The Semiconductor Education Alliance is bringing together key stakeholders across industry, academia and government to address the growing challenges of both finding talent and upskilling the existing workforce. To ensure these challenges don’t hinder industry growth at this critical time, the alliance is urging anyone with contributions to make to the semiconductor skills pipeline to get involved.
Bringing the semiconductor and academic worlds together to build new accelerated educational pathways
The alliance brings together several existing partnerships and workstreams from Arm and the wider industry and aims to create and build new ones. Deliverables will include competency frameworks tailored to the industry needs of specific geographies, and accelerated educational and training pathways, resources, and services that will help to build and support future talent pools.
Developed by our highly experienced team of education professionals spanning schools to university and beyond, the alliance is an evolution of our existing education model in which Arm will play a vital coordination role. Community members will share resources, capabilities, and expertise in a flexible, federated and open model through a variety of forums. This will give teachers, researchers, aspiring or practicing engineers, and learners easier access to critical resources and unlock new opportunities to collaborate on projects such as joint bids for research grants. A number of projects are already in the works, for example:
- Arm, along with EDA partners, are working on new VLSI design educational resources using state-of-the-art EDA tools and IP
- New distance learning solutions in computer engineering and informatics are being developed from Arm and partners in industry and academia
- A global SoC design platform for academia with access to the latest semiconductor fabrication technologies from Arm and partners
You can read more about these and other projects in this blog from Khaled Benkrid, senior director, Education & Research at Arm.
Diversity is critical to building the next generation of semiconductor talent
To bring further diversity of talent into the industry, the alliance is committed to growing and supporting multiple routes into semiconductor careers, such as technical, vocational and self-study pathways. To achieve this, a key pillar of the alliance’s approach is to allow the flexibility to engage in a variety of ways, making the industry accessible to a broad range of diverse individuals, regardless of their prior education or experience. Members of the alliance will create new opportunities for learners to gain hands-on experience through internships, apprenticeships, and co-op placements, as well as distance learning tracks on massive open online course (MOOC) platforms, where access is offered free to learners regardless of their financial means or geographic location.
A robust skills pipeline for an ecosystem building the future of computing on Arm
You might ask, why now? And isn’t this work happening already? It’s true that many industry players have robust, high quality educational programs that offer state of the art content, tools and services. Indeed, Arm has a university program that reaches hundreds of thousands of students globally. But we believe the industry is at a tipping point when it comes to the skills gap, and more cohesive, industry-wide action is required to truly have an impact.
The importance of investing in skills and education is something Arm has always recognized, and our vast computing footprint and global ecosystem means we have a unique and far-reaching point of view on the skills needed as the industry evolves. The Semiconductor Education Alliance aims to better align the industry around common goals, shared resources, and communities of best practice to tackle the skills gap that threatens progress today. At Arm, we’re committed to being a driving force within this alliance as we come together as an industry to continue to nurture a pipeline of talent building the future of computing on Arm.
With a strong and growing membership spanning the semiconductor supply chain, the alliance is seeing support from a range of key industry players including Arduino, Anglia Ruskin University, Cadence, Cornell University, IIT Jodhpur, STMicroelectronics, Synopsys, Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute, the All-India Council for Technical Education, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the Semiconductor Industry Alliance, the University of Southampton, UK Electronics Skills Foundation and Universitat Politècnica de València.
Supporting partner quotes
Anglia Ruskin University Professor Laurie Butler, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Science & Engineering at Anglia Ruskin University
“The Semiconductor Education Alliance is an exciting initiative and Anglia Ruskin University is proud to be part of it. In addition to strengthening our research partnership with Arm, we also aim to develop online courses through the Education Alliance to tackle skills gaps and increase diversity in important areas, including Artificial Intelligence.”
Arduino Massimo Banzi, Arduino’s co-founder, chairman and CMO
“Arduino was founded on the belief in breaking down the barriers around the electronics landscape, so aligning the industry, leveraging shared resources and fostering communities of best practices is a natural fit for our education and engagement expertise. We are thrilled to join the outstanding leaders in the Semiconductor Education Alliance and help bridge the skills gap within the sector to ultimately accelerate individual opportunities, unlock new innovation and increase the growth of this vital industry.”
Cadence Yoon Kim, VP and Chief of Staff to the CEO, Cadence
“Cadence and Arm have spent several years collaborating to fuel next-generation design through the Cadence Academic Network and Arm University Program, and both companies have a common mission to introduce intelligent system design technologies to next-generation innovators. This latest collaboration with Arm provides universities and students with easy access to industry-grade technology and has yielded multiple educational materials for professors, including cloud-based webinars, seminars and course curriculums. The recent Arm VLSI Education kit includes the full Cadence digital flow, and additionally, more than 600 professors worldwide have downloaded the kit from the Cadence Academic Network website to date. We look forward to continuing to provide students with the resources they need to gain practical knowledge and hands-on experience, so they can seamlessly embark on careers in the semiconductor industry after graduation.”
Cornell University Prof. David R. Schneider, Director of MEng Studies in Systems Engineering, Cornell University
“Cornell Systems Engineering is committed to making a difference, and we are honored to be a part of this important initiative. By leveraging expertise at Cornell and Arm to develop engaging cyber-physical systems courses, whose materials will be free and accessible to anyone in the world, this partnership is poised to make a meaningful impact in workforce development.”
IIT Jodhpur Dr. Santanu Chaudhury, Director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur
“Arm University Program resources have substantially helped learners in Embedded System Design and Complex Systems on Chip. Similarly, access to commercially-proven IP has allowed the university ecosystem to keep up with the dynamic landscape of chip design, and create its own SoCs. We are pleased to be part of the alliance.”
Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) John Neuffer, President and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)
“The semiconductor workforce propels the game-changing chip innovations that improve our lives and power the digital economy. SIA applauds the launch of the Semiconductor Education Alliance to help promote industry-academia collaboration, address chip industry workforce challenges, and build a strong and diverse semiconductor workforce for the future.
Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Dr. Todd R. Younkin, President & CEO of Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)
“The key to semiconductor growth is the flow of diverse new talent, however companies require more engineers and scientists than the number of ‘semiconductor’ students expected to graduate from U.S. universities in the coming years. In addition to universities, other scalable talent factories need to be added to the education ecosystem, and the semiconductor industry must be involved in winning the hearts and minds of future innovators. SRC, a longtime leader in workforce development for the semiconductor industry, celebrates the Semiconductor Education Alliance and believes this initiative is a great step to solving these challenges.”
“STMicroelectronics has a history of strong support for STEM education, especially at the university level. We see this as vital and we engage in a broad range of collaborative activities with Academia across the globe. As a leader in the semiconductor industry with world-class know-how and tools and a long-term emphasis on corporate sustainability, we accept a responsibility to help develop the next generation of workforce talents for the electronics industry and its ecosystem. As a result, we’ve long emphasized the development of educational content with our University partners and by opening our professional development tools to everyone, as we’ve done here.
Working with Arm and the other partners, the Semiconductor Education Alliance will give us all even greater visibility and resources to prepare students, makers, and professional to meet the needs of tomorrow’s Industry. Together will help create the expertise for forthcoming engineers to build a better future: more connected, more efficient, smarter, and more sustainable.” John Rossi, Vice President, AME Strategic Marketing, STMicroelectronics
“Semiconductors are the backbone of the digital society, and for more than 35 years, Synopsys has been providing electronic design automation (EDA) technologies to enable semiconductor innovation. With industry advances being accelerated by AI design technologies, the opportunity for talented new technologists has never been greater. With support from the Synopsys Academic & Research Alliances (SARA), we are delighted to collaborate with Arm on an education alliance to help early-in-career individuals develop deeper knowledge, skills and experience and to shape the future workforce of our industry and of computing altogether.” Deirdre Hanford, Chief Security Officer at Synopsys
The All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
“The alliance is all about collaboration. Faculty development programs in partnership with Arm, STMicroelectronics, Microsoft and Cadence are making a major contribution to upskilling in Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and beyond. The Inventors Challenges we have run in partnership with Arm have fostered innovation, helping India create a pool of skilled talent in the semiconductor domain.” Dr. T G Sitharam, Chairman All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
The Polytechnic University of Valencia
“The Polytechnic University of Valencia is delighted to join the Semiconductor Education Alliance initiative to address the mismatch between supply and demand of talent in the semiconductor sector. We believe that alliances of this type are key to ensuring adequate training for individuals and their ongoing retraining, essential aspects for the progress of society that are part of UPV’s mission.” José Pedro García Sabater, Vice-rector for Planning, Academic Offer and Digital Transformation, UPV
UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF)
“We’re delighted to be a partner in the Semiconductor Education Alliance. For many years, the UKESF has worked with schools and colleges to encourage a diverse range of students into electronics careers and connect talented undergraduates with employers. We look forward to collaborating with other key organisations from around the world to tackle the skills shortages and gaps in semiconductors whilst, hopefully, improving diversity and inclusivity within the sector.” Stewart Edmondson, CEO, UK Electronics Skills Foundation
University of Southampton
“We are delighted to be a launch partner of this growing global alliance. The Alliance’s goals of creating a global community of practice, promoting the sharing of knowledge and developing the skills we need to build a better, more sustainable, and inclusive world are goals we share in common, and we look forward to addressing these shared challenges.” Professor Mark Spearing, Vice-President Research & Enterprise at the University of Southampton