Arm announces new global skills initiative

2 mins read

At a time when the semiconductor industry’s global strategic importance is more widely understood than ever before, the opportunity for growth and innovation is certainly clear. However, the availability of the right skills in the workforce could be a significant barrier to future progress.

In response, Arm has announced a new global initiative known as the Semiconductor Education Alliance, with the support of partners including Arduino, Cadence, Cornell University, the Semiconductor Research Consortium, 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,” said Gary Campbell, EVP Central Engineering Arm.  “We want to ensure these challenges don’t hinder industry growth at this critical time, and the alliance is urging anyone with contributions to make to the semiconductor skills pipeline to get involved.”

The alliance aims to bring 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,” explained Campbell. “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, and include:

  • Arm, along with EDA partners, 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 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

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.

“You might ask, why now? And isn’t this work happening already?” said Campbell. “While it’s true that many industry players have robust, high quality educational programmes that offer state of the art content, tools and services, 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 recognised, 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.”

Campbell said that with a strong and growing membership spanning the semiconductor supply chain, the alliance was already seeing support from a range of key industry players.