UKESF contributes to Parliament’s research on the supply of semiconductor chips

By Stew Edmondson, CEO, UKESF

It’s been almost a year since the Government launched their National Semiconductor Strategy and we have gladly welcomed the step change in activity and interest around Electronics and semiconductors. However, the skills challenge remains the same:

The only way for UK semiconductor industry to sustainably grow and thrive in the long term is to increase the number of students studying electronics at degree level.

The semiconductor industry is forecast to be worth $1T globally, but has for a long time largely been unknown to many outside of the profession. It is crucial for advances in healthcare, security, AI, green energy, communication, and many other sectors on which we rely. At the UKESF, it is our mission to ensure that more school children, their parents and their teachers are aware of Electronics, have the opportunity to learn about it in an engaging way.

To achieve this, we are working tirelessly to advocate for skills on behalf of the Electronics industry. We want to ensure that policymakers and other key stakeholders recognise the importance of semiconductors, both for today, and for the future.

We were pleased to have been invited to contribute to the POSTnote, Supply of Semiconductor Chips, by Debbie Woods and Devyani Gajjar. The document has been produced by Parliament, for Parliament, to provide a reliable and impartial overview of the industry. Our contribution has highlighted that:

The Semiconductor Strategy set out the UK’s plan to “secure areas of world-leading strength in the semiconductor technologies of the future by focusing on our strengths in R&D, design and IP, and compound semiconductors”. Through initiatives like this POSTnote, we can raise awareness of the challenges we face with policymakers so that we can move forward with an aligned, coherent strategy that not only ensures have a good pipeline of Electronics engineers entering industry, but that they have the right skills for the industry to thrive.

Read the POSTnote in full here, and visit our Skills Advocacy page for more information about the work we’re doing.

The UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF) has partnered up with the Royal Institution to deliver a series of Computer Science masterclasses to year 8 pupils.

With the support of UKESF Scholars, pupils had the opportunity to get hands on with an interactive electronics session and participate in a drone competition. The masterclasses were held at a college in Hampshire.

“We are delighted that the students had such a positive experience at the masterclasses. Not only was there a fantastic atmosphere on the day, but pupils reported that they were inspired to learn more about the variety of careers that computer science can lead to, and that they were more likely to consider a career in STEM following the event.” Isabel Culmer, UKESF Education Outreach Advisor

The Insight into Electronics session was supported by UKESF Scholars Alexander Mills and Tao Zeng from the University of Southampton. Pupils were introduced to microcontrollers and sensors using an Arduino kit, and had the opportunity to ask their questions to the Scholars about their journey so far and experiences.

The drone competition was run by UKESF Scholars Shawn Poile and Efstratios Stamatopoulos, also from the University of Southampton, in collaboration with NXP Semiconductors. The pupils programmed drones to fly on an obstacle course, and learned that programming for hardware can come with challenges and unexpected outcomes.

Feedback following the session found that:

Read the full report here.

If you would like to find out more about Insight into Electronics, click here. For more information about RI Masterclasses, click here.