13 March 2023

UK's position in the semiconductor industry under threat

Science and engineering leaders call for government action to tackle 'skills shortages, high costs and low public awareness'.

© Anne Nyg√•rd/unsplash

A roundtable report from science and industry experts, organised by the Institute of Physics and the Royal Academy of Engineering, is now calling for the UK Government to urgently publish its long-awaited semiconductor strategy so businesses can compete with frontrunners such as the US, China and Taiwan.

The intervention comes after questions around foreign influence in the UK semiconductor market, and a world shortage of semiconductors caused a drop in UK car production and threw the spotlight on this crucial technology.

The report finds that:

  • Skills shortages at all levels, from school-age Physics through to specialist electrical engineering skills, exacerbated by a shortage of specialist Physics teachers, with a particular skills gap among women and underrepresented groups.
  • High costs for design tools and competition from big international players stifling innovation and stopping many new companies getting off the ground.
  • Low levels of public awareness and understanding of semiconductors, compounding the recruitment challenges companies face.

The authors suggest that a national‘semiconductor institute, which the government is set to explore through a £900k feasibility study, could be an important step towards the solution.