Resilience is key

Click here to enlarge image

Every so often a pure fact slaps you across the face, awakening you to an obvious reality. I experienced such a moment as I walked the floor at CleanRooms Europe 2000 in Frankfurt.

The training issue is a global one.

The upswing the semiconductor industry is currently experiencing is literally forcing semiconductor manufacturers to address the clean manufacturing training piece of their business plans, for now it's a problem that threatens the very bottom line.

However, the issue is one that is being tackled, step-by-step, around the world, in fresh and inventive ways. Turn to this month's cover story by Hank Hogan to get a feel for how the US semiconductor market is handling the draught of experienced talent.

The numbers that Hogan reports are slightly alarming: According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the number of students enrolled in technical degree programs over the past 10 years has dropped by at least one third. In the Northeastern US there's a projected shortfall of 3,000 semiconductor technicians over the next three years—25,000 projected nationally.

The response, however, is enlightening: The SIA, local colleges and industry players have aligned to meet market-specific training needs in the Northeast and around the country. We'll keep an eye on their progress.

Our European correspondent, Barbara Rott, kicks off this month's Inside Europe (page 8) with a comprehensive look into the European market's response to its shallow talent pool.

JDS Uniphase, a global optoelectronic player, is going to great expense to ramp up its newest manufacturing facility in Plymouth, England. JDS is recruiting talent from the Plymouth area with the help of a local recruitment company and sending them, all expenses paid, to the Netherlands for several months for cleanroom and product-specific training. With 180 openings to fill in Plymouth, one can only imagine the cost. However, according to JDS' director of strategic development, Grant Rogers, the program is proving to be “indispensable.” Cost is, in turn, overridden by pure necessity.

I beat this drum a few months ago following a dinner party with our editorial advisory board. The training issue, we concluded, was paramount, not just in the semiconductor segment of our coverage, but throughout pharmaceutical, automotive, food safety, etc.

The problem, I've been told, is attaching training's effect to a company's bottom line. I've yet to come across an example where a cleanroom trainer or manager has successfully figured out how to execute this magic trick—or is it, after all, just slight-of-hand?

Michael Levans
Chief Editor


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account. Comments won't automatically be posted to your social media accounts unless you select to share.