By Ajit Manocha
Last year the industry posted another remarkable double-digit revenue growth year. IC shipments eclipsed one trillion units for the first time and continued to enable an ever-expanding array of silicon intensive-applications.
2018 was also a pivotal year of transformation at SEMI. Setting our sights firmly on building more value for SEMI members, we doubled down on priorities I established this time last year. We advocated intensively on global trade policies, industry talent needs, and critical environment, health and safety (EHS) concerns. To underpin our efforts around talent, we took the bold step to reinvigorate the industry’s identity with a dynamic image campaign. Above all, we targeted critical industry-wide issues to help us realize the ambition of becoming a trillion-dollar industry in the next decade.
Redefining our approach to talent development in 2018 was and remains a top priority. A diverse, highly skilled workforce is crucial to the industry’s ability to innovate. Last year we ramped up a number of SEMI High Tech U (HTU) programs to inspire young people and attract them to careers in high-tech manufacturing. To date, more than 130,000 students have been touched by HTU – through student or teacher programs.
Over the past year, we designed a new university outreach program and established partnerships with 100 institutions. We established Workforce Pavilions at SEMICON events in Southeast Asia, the U.S., Taiwan, Europe and Japan for students to explore career opportunities and meet with recruiters. We thrilled at seeing sponsors hire young talent at SEMI events. This year, all SEMICONs worldwide will feature Workforce Pavilions.
SEMI also formalized its commitment to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) with the establishment of a D&I council to shape new programs including the recently launched Spotlight on SEMI Women. To localize and fully optimize our D&I programs, we established regional workforce councils in every region we serve.
We unveiled the SEMI Mentoring Program to support students and young professionals on this journey by facilitating one-on-one mentoring relationships with industry professionals. Hundreds of mentees have enrolled. But we still need more mentors. I urge you to join the program.
During the year, SEMI also expanded its workforce staff and developed a comprehensive workforce strategy with programs that engage students as early as elementary school and inspires them through high school and college. The program provides pathways to professional careers, building a pipeline to fill the short-term and long-term talent needs of the industry.
Industry Image Campaign
As we developed the comprehensive workforce development program, we knew we had to refresh the industry’s image and appeal to the next generation through contemporary media and communications channels. So we recently launched a bold, innovative campaign to raise industry awareness and attract students and recent graduates to careers in semiconductor manufacturing.
Our You’re Welcome campaign is a novel, creative approach that blends entertainment, media and storytelling to excite students about the industry. The campaign went viral immediately and within weeks had more than 5.5 million social media impressions and 2.3 million video views.
Trade Policy Advocacy
Rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China catapulted global trade policy to the forefront of industry concerns in 2018. Since the tariffs have taken force, semiconductor companies have faced higher costs, greater uncertainty, and difficulty selling products abroad. The tariffs have forced many SEMI member companies to pause or rethink their investment strategies.
SEMI quickly engaged U.S. policymakers and provided resources for SEMI members. We formed a member trade task force, staged trade compliance seminars in China, and convened meetings with over 110 U.S. congressional, agency and administration officials, and provided testimony on the importance of the free trade to the industry.
SEMI continues to educate policymakers about the critical importance of free and fair trade, open markets, and respect and enforcement of IP for all players in the global electronics manufacturing supply chain. As part of this initiative, we distributed “10 Principles for the Global Semiconductor Supply Chain in Modern Trade Agreements” and encouraged their adoption in various trade negotiations. These principles outline the primary considerations for balanced trade rules that benefit SEMI members around the world, strengthen innovation and perpetuate the societal benefits of affordable microelectronics.
Environment, Health and Safety
Environmental regulations are proliferating globally even as advanced semiconductor manufacturing technology relies increasingly on a host of new materials. With dozens of new fabs and fab line upgrades, our industry must align on best practices, sensibly respond to materials restrictions, and renew efforts toward sustainable manufacturing.
That’s why the revitalization of SEMI EHS efforts became another priority in 2018. Two months ago, we hosted the inaugural EHS Summit at SEMI Headquarters. Fully, 70 EHS professionals and company executives met to form the basis for the future SEMI EHS program.
The Year Ahead
Despite a softening in the market, compounded by Apple’s first-ever announcement of a revenue decline in 16 years, a geopolitical whirlwind on trade and an extended shutdown of much of the U.S. government, the future is bright.
At SEMI’s annual Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS 2019) in Half Moon Bay, Calif. in early January, the sense of optimism was palpable. In her keynote address, Dr. Ann Kelleher, Sr. VP and General Manager, Technology and Manufacturing Group, at Intel, observed that data is powering the fourth industry revolution and the expansion of compute. With customers expecting continual improvements in applications, Kelleher highlighted the tremendous opportunity for the chip industry to meet these expectations.
At ISS 2019, we announced a Memorandum of Understand between SEMI and imec. The MOU will enable us to accelerate our members’ engagement in SEMI’s Smart vertical market platforms, in particular Smart MedTech and Smart Transportation. Our partnership with imec will also allow us to boost SEMI Standards activities in non-CMOS technologies, deepen technology roadmap efforts and augment our SEMI Think Tank initiative in thought leadership at a global level.
Over the course of this coming year, will we begin our global rollout of key building blocks of our comprehensive workforce development program to engage schoolchildren as young as 10 and learners all the way to veterans who return to the workforce. We are now able, with the invaluable help of our Workforce Development Council and the passionate engagement of many SEMI member companies, to offer a solution to the talent crisis in our industry.
We will continue to be the leading voice for our members and the end-to-end semiconductor supply chain across Talent, Trade, Tax and Technology as we work to ensure free, fair trade that protects IP while preserving vital access to markets to grow the supply chain.
Vertical Market Platforms
Our vertical market platforms are an important part of this growth. For example, in Smart MedTech, SEMI looks forward to working with the Nano-Bio Materials Consortium to advance human monitoring technology for telemedicine and digital health after winning $7 million to fund the renewed program. In Smart Transportation, we will leverage the Global Automotive Advisory Council (GAAC) we formed last year to represent the full automotive supply chain and the Smart Transportation and Smart Automotive forums featured at all our SEMICON events to enable the industry to identify and seize opportunities in autonomous driving.
At ISS 2019, Sujeet Chand of Rockwell Automation noted that “digitization will grow faster in the next 10 years than it did in the past 50,” a trend calling for semiconductor fab architectures that transform data into business value. We will continue to bring the industry together at our Smart Manufacturing venues to help uncover ways to deploy deep learning, edge computing and other Smart technologies to deliver this value and meet the challenges of automation as artificial intelligence’s (AI) sprawling influence reshapes industries including manufacturing.
I am filled with optimism and thrilled about the opportunities I see on the horizon for our members as we build on our 2018 accomplishments to enable your prosperity in 2019 and beyond. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your participation in our programs and events.
I look forward to another successful year as we connect, collaborate and innovate together!
Ajit Manocha is president and CEO of SEMI.