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Technical Insight

Magazine Feature
This article was originally featured in the edition:
2024 Issue 5

SEMI focuses on skills initiatives

News

Skills, sustainability and market numbers are all covered in this SEMI news update

SEMI is inviting key industry stakeholders to participate in a survey designed to assess job skills in highest demand in Europe›s microelectronics industry in 2024. Responses are sought from professionals in various roles including senior engineers, professors, researchers and human resources representatives. The deadline for completing the survey is June 28. Results will be published in September 2024.

Supported by SEMI Europe and organized by DECISION - Études & Conseil, the survey was developed by the European Chips Skills Academy (ECSA), an EU-funded initiative launched by a consortium of 18 partners from 12 countries.

The survey builds on the METIS project’s in-depth analysis of skills in the European microelectronics sector from 2020 to 2023. The survey will enable the ECSA to evaluate relevant job profiles in the semiconductor industry, including new roles, positions in highest demand, and those with the highest skills shortage. DECISION Études & Conseil will use the survey to monitor hiring trends and craft public policy recommendations.

“The survey is essential to analyzing key workforce trends in Europe’s semiconductor sector and giving us strategic insights that will enable the ECSA to update the EU Microelectronics Skills Strategy,” said Léo Saint-Martin, Senior Consultant – Associate at DECISION Études & Conseil. “The results will also help us implement and operationalize the EU Pact for Skills.”

The ECSA’s mission is to help integrate the work of industry, research, and academia to develop innovative training and curricula in order to better meet the skills needs of Europe’s chip sector.

“To increase its competitiveness and to achieve the ambitions of the EU Chips Act, the European microelectronics sector must overcome severe skills and talent shortages,” said Christopher Frieling, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at SEMI. “The survey is part of a holistic initiative under the European Chips Skills Academy that aims to involve partners across the entire semiconductor value chain.”

The ECSA plans to repeat the survey in 2025, 2026 and 2027 to ensure that public policy recommendations reflect the semiconductor industry’s most pressing workforce needs.

New online certification programs
Aiming to help the global semiconductor industry address its talent gap by training and upskilling workers, SEMI says that its SEMI University™ learning platform now offers online course certification programs designed to fast-track semiconductor career development. Tailored to help meet burgeoning industry demand for technicians, the first two SEMI University Semiconductor Certification Programs are designed for new talent seeking rewarding careers in the industry and experienced workers looking to keep their skills current.

“With semiconductor manufacturers investing heavily in new fabs backed in part by government incentives, SEMI projects the global industry will need 1 million new workers worldwide by 2030 to support the chipmaking expansion,” said Shari Liss, Executive Director of the SEMI Foundation, which drives the SEMI Workforce Development program. “Technicians are in the highest demand, accounting for roughly 40% of the semiconductor workforce worldwide. The SEMI University Certification Program will help meet the industry’s pressing need for a diverse range of training and certification programs to close the talent gap.”

“SEMI University’s new Semiconductor Certification Programs give the industry a fast way to train new talent while enabling current workers to keep pace with its expanding skills requirements,” said SEMI University Director Naresh Naik. “The first two certification programs address critical technician roles. We look forward to adding new certifications to support the industry’s growing workforce needs and career development for our learners.”

The SEMI University Semiconductor Certification Programs include:

The Semiconductor Technician Certification equips new semiconductor industry workers with the skills necessary to excel in chip manufacturing.

The certification program provides comprehensive training in the semiconductor process and on-the-job tasks. Courses cover the function of semiconductors and their manufacture, how electrical circuits work the physical laws that apply to electrical current, as well as the various applications of electrical testing equipment.

The Pneumatics/Hydraulics Technician Certification covers the use of vacuum technology in pneumatic systems and hydraulics theory. Courses address the properties of gases and vacuums, how various vacuum types are generated, and hydraulic systems and their components including actuators. The curriculum also compares hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

Keeping tabs on corporate climate disclosures
SEMI has released the report A Rising Tide: Building a Climate-Resilient Semiconductor Value Chain that spotlights the maturity of the semiconductor value chain as it strives toward greater climate resilience and develops climate risk mitigation strategies. Led by the SEMI Sustainability Initiative Environmental Risk Mitigation and Reporting (ERMR) working group, the study identifies strengths, gaps and challenges faced by the industry in implementing recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The report also offers recommendations on industry best practices to enhance climate disclosure maturity. Download the report.

The report leveraged Nasdaq Sustainable Lens™, an AI-powered ESG intelligence platform, to analyze and assess the maturity level of each segment of the semiconductor value chain based on publicly available sustainability and climate information of 100 leading semiconductor companies against TCFD recommendations. Nasdaq Sustainable Lens™ reviewed over 2,200 corporate annual financial reports, sustainability reports, low-carbon transition and climate action plans and other sustainability and climate information released between 2021 and 2023. The platform uncovered five key takeaways:

Maturity of semiconductor industry-level climate disclosures are in the Established phase as defined by Nasdaq. The semiconductor companies included in the assessment showed 40% higher TCFD alignment than the market average, represented by over 9,000 global companies across all industries beyond semiconductors.

Corporate climate reporting varies by semiconductor value chain segment largely due to different stakeholder expectations, jurisdiction-level reporting requirements, the level of resources dedicated to corporate climate work, as well as board- and executive-level engagement in climate initiatives.

Companies prioritize near-term climate targets, though only some have set long-term net zero goals. On average, value chain segments demonstrated the most comprehensive TCFD alignment with the Metrics & Targets pillar, particularly as it relates to near-term greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets.

Addressing organizational resilience to climate change appears to be the biggest industry-level challenge. The most under reported categories included climate scenario analysis, quantitative physical and transition climate risk assessments, and setting an internal carbon price. This indicates that the core question of how a company’s business strategy will perform under various climate scenarios remains a major gap across all semiconductor value chain segments.

Ensuring climate resilience of the value chain is a business imperative for semiconductor companies. Industry-level recognition of the vulnerability of the semiconductor value chain to existing and potential climate-related risks and proactively building a path towards climate resilience are crucial for long-term business continuity.

“Our study aims to raise awareness of climate risk as a key business risk and demonstrate an important role that climate resilience plays in ensuring business continuity and long-term resilience of the semiconductor value chain,” said Alua Suleimenova, Senior Sustainability Program Manager at Marvell and leader of the ERMR working group. “This analysis will inform business leaders’ decisions around measuring and reporting on corporate climate action. Further, this study can help SEMI members enhance transparency of their climate disclosures in alignment with emerging reporting requirements, including the TCFD recommendations, which are now housed within the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB).”

“The analysis made possible by Nasdaq Sustainable Lens™ is a key step forward in understanding and improving sustainability risk assessment and reporting across the semiconductor value chain,” said Dr. Mousumi Bhat, Vice President of Global Sustainability Programs at SEMI. “Marvell’s leadership and the companies that provided case studies were crucial to delivering these important insights.”


Mixed market messages

The global semiconductor manufacturing industry in the first quarter of 2024 showed signs of improvement with an uptick in electronic sales, stabilizing inventories and an increase in installed wafer fab capacity, SEMI announced in its Q1 2024 publication of the Semiconductor Manufacturing Monitor (SMM) Report, prepared in partnership with TechInsights. Stronger industry growth is expected in the second half of the year.

In Q1 2024, electronic sales rose 1% year-over-year (YoY), with Q2 2024 forecast to register a 5% YoY increase. IC sales posted robust 22% YoY growth in Q1 2024 and are expected to surge 21% in Q2 2024 as shipments of high-performance computing (HPC) chips increase and memory pricing continues to improve. IC inventory levels stabilized in Q1 2024 and are expected to improve this quarter.

Installed wafer fab capacity continues to increase and is projected to exceed 40 million wafers per quarter (in 300mm wafer equivalent), rising 1.2% in Q1 2024 with an expected 1.4% uptick in Q2 2024. China continues to log the highest capacity growth among all regions. However, fab utilization rates, particularly for mature nodes, remain a concern with little signs of recovery expected in the first half of 2024. Memory utilization rates were lower than expected in Q1 2024 due to disciplined supply control.

In line with fab utilization trends, semiconductor capital expenditures remain conservative. After falling 17% YoY in Q4 2023, capital expenditures continued to pull back 11% in Q1 2024 before eking out an expected 0.7% gain in Q2 2024. Sequentially in Q2 2024, the trend is turning positive with an expected 8% increase in memory-related capital expenditures as they see slightly stronger growth than non-memory segments.

“Demand in some semiconductor segments is recovering, but the pace of recovery is uneven,” said Clark Tseng, Senior Director of Market Intelligence at SEMI. “AI chips and high-bandwidth memory are currently among devices in the highest demand, leading to increased investment and capacity expansion in these areas. However, the impact of AI chips on IC shipment growth remains limited due to their reliance on a small number of key suppliers.”

“Semiconductor demand in the first half of 2024 is mixed, with memory and logic rebounding due to surging generative AI demand,” said Boris Metodiev, Director of Market Analysis at TechInsights.

“However, analog, discrete, and optoelectronics have experienced a slight correction due to the slow recovery of the consumer market coupled with a pullback in demand from the automotive and industrial markets.”

“A full-on recovery is likely to take hold in the second half of the year with the projected boost in consumer demand by AI’s expansion to the edge,” Metodiev said. “Additionally, the automotive and industrial markets are expected to return to growth in the latter part of the year as interest rates fall – providing consumers more purchasing power – and inventory declines.”

Sources: SEMI (www.semi.org) and TechInsights (www.techinsights.com), May 2024

Global semiconductor materials market revenue in 2023 contracted 8.2% to $66.7 billion from the market record of $72.7 billion set in 2022, SEMI has reported in its Materials Market Data Subscription (MMDS).

Wafer fabrication materials revenue declined 7.0% to $41.5 billion in 2023, while packaging materials revenue fell 10.1% to $25.2 billion last year. The silicon, photoresist ancillaries, wet chemicals, and chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) segments logged the biggest contractions in the wafer fabrication materials market. The organic substrates segment accounted for much of the packaging materials market contraction.

Demand for semiconductors softened in 2023 as the industry worked to reduce excess inventory, leading to lower fab utilization rates and, consequently, a drop in materials consumption.

Taiwan, at $19.2 billion in revenue, was the world’s largest consumer of semiconductor materials for the 14th consecutive year. China, at $13.1 billion in revenue, continued to register year-over-year growth, ranking second in 2023, while Korea remained the third largest consumer with $10.6 billion in revenue. All regions except China posted high single- or double-digit declines in 2023.

Note: Summed subtotals may not equal the total due to rounding.Rest of the World includes Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, other areas of Southeast Asia, and smaller global markets.

Worldwide silicon wafer shipments decreased 5.4% quarter-over-quarter to 2,834 million square inches in the first quarter of 2024, a 13.2% drop from the 3,265 million square inches recorded during the same quarter last year, the SEMI Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG) reported in its quarterly analysis of the silicon wafer industry.

“The continuing decline in IC fab utilisation and inventory adjustment led to negative growth across all wafer sizes in Q1 2024, with polished wafer shipments falling slightly more year-over-year than EPI wafer shipments,” said Lee Chungwei, Chairman of SEMI SMG and Vice President and Chief Auditor at GlobalWafers. “Notably, utilization by some fabs bottomed out in Q4 2023 as growing AI adoption fueled rising demand for advanced node logic products and memory for data centers.”

Silicon area shipment trends – Semiconductor applications only

Senator saluted
The SEMI North America Advisory Board has presented the annual SEMI Americas Government Leadership Award to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles (Chuck) Schumer in recognition of his extraordinary support of the U.S. semiconductor industry. SEMI Americas President Joe Stockunas and TEL Vice President Ben Rathsack presented Senator Schumer with the award this week at the U.S. Capitol Building.

The SEMI North America Advisory Board selects SEMI Americas Government Leadership Award honorees based on their impact on policies and incentives to bolster semiconductor design
and manufacturing in the Americas region and advance the growth of the global industry.

“Senator Schumer is the embodiment of a semiconductor industry champion,” Stockunas said. “His visionary leadership was instrumental in the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, paving the way for the creation of thousands of jobs and the infusion of billions of dollars into the U.S. chip ecosystem to help strengthen the resilience of the global semiconductor supply chain. The funding awards include recent grants for GlobalFoundries and Micron facilities in New York that will support research and development at the Albany NanoTech Complex critical to national security.”

“Senator Schumer’s steadfast support, from the drafting of the CHIPS Act to its implementation, continues to bring tangible benefits to communities, businesses and the U.S. as a whole, contributing to its national and economic security,” Stockunas said. “We commend Senator Schumer for his outstanding contributions and tireless efforts to help ensure the semiconductor industry reaches its full potential.”

The North America Advisory Board provides guidance on SEMI Americas programs designed to advance their business interests and address significant challenges in the electronics manufacturing and design supply chain.

The Board’s mission is to strengthen the financial, market, and technology performance of SEMI member companies operating in North America.

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