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Semiconductor education and workforce development

Our industry cannot flourish with an empty talent pool. Explore imec’s initiatives towards formal and on-the-job training for a range of careers in semiconductors.

The semiconductor industry talks a lot about tools, materials and processes. But it ultimately thrives on people. People who deliver scientific breakthroughs, provide designs, take care of manufacturing and testing processes, and much more.

Predictions state that the semiconductor industry will need one million additional skilled workers by 2030. That formidable challenge can only be met through a concerted effort by many actors within and outside the ecosystem, targeted at all types and levels of education.

As a central knowledge hub in the semiconductor network, imec makes a vital contribution to this endeavor. Both directly and through our partners, we take and support initiatives that drive more talent to our industry and optimize the skill level of those already active in it.

Imec also takes part in funded projects focused on tackling the talent shortage in the semiconductor industry, such as the European Chips Skills Academy (ECS Academy). The ECS Academy consortium will offer curricula, training content, courses, internships and a summer school covering key topics in microelectronics.

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Secondary education and career orientation

A career in the semiconductor industry entails more than job security and a competitive salary. It’s a front-row seat to the most exciting technological developments of our time. Contributing to innovations that shape the lives of billions of people.

Curiously, that’s not how young talents perceive our industry. Encouraging students – and girls in particular – to choose STEM remains challenging. And those attracted to technology often prefer a career in software and AI over hardware.

It’s therefore vital to put semiconductor technology and its societal impact on the radar of schoolchildren.

As part of its local activities in Flanders, imec is the driving force behind the Brightlab initiative, which aims to shape future innovators by supporting stimulating and innovative STEM education.

Higher education

Bridging industry and academia is one of imec’s core missions. Therefore, we want to address the challenge of preparing both undergraduate (bachelor) and graduate (master/PhD) students for a professional career in semiconductors.

Bachelor level

Imec offers internships to professional bachelor students from schools in the vicinity of Leuven. For local professional bachelor-level teachers, we offer 2-day summer schools to get them up to speed with recent developments in semiconductor technology.

Master level

We’re closely involved in the following master's programs:

PhD level

At any time, more than 900 PhD students from over 40 different countries work at imec. They get access to our state-of-the-art infrastructure, develop their skills through specialized technical training and are introduced to the worldwide semiconductor ecosystem.

Providing universities with access to advanced technologies

Finally, we help students to get their hands on the tools they need to put their skills into practice.

The process of IC design and manufacturing has reached an unequaled level of complexity. For very advanced technology nodes, the resources needed are only open to a handful of organizations – almost never to universities.

The result is that students run the risk of graduating without any practical knowledge of advanced technologies. Imec aims to amend this in several ways:

  • Through EUROPRACTICE, a unique EU-funded consortium, we offer universities affordable access to industrial-grade design tools and prototyping capabilities.
  • Our open pathfinding PDK, embedded in EDA tool suites, enables virtual digital designs in imec’s N2 technology.
  • We offer train-the-trainer events and boot camps where selected faculty members and students receive crash courses in the most recent developments in semiconductor technology.

On-the-job training and lifelong learning

Formal education can provide the semiconductor industry with a steady stream of talent. But the pool dries out quickly if knowledge isn’t continually updated. And many jobs can only truly be learned in direct contact with the highly specialized tools they require.

New cleanroom operators receive a customized training program. They are supported by a dedicated trainer and coach who swiftly and fully prepare them for their tasks in a highly specialized environment.

Additionally, imec school is a recurring dual learning program for first-line support and process assistants in imec’s cleanrooms. It combines:

  • a basic education in chemistry, electronics, mechanics and processing techniques
  • on-the-job training from day one

Participants for imec school can enter without a technical degree or formal technical experience. They get a permanent contract from the very first day.

Imec’s initiatives on education and workforce development are continually expanding. Want to stay up to date?

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