21 January 2022
CSconnected ‘Strength in Places Fund’ project to focus on overcoming skills barriers
A £43m, 55-month project part-funded by £25m through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) is focusing on strengthening the emerging regional compound semiconductor cluster CSconnected in South Wales around advanced semiconductor materials, research and manufacturing.
The skills element of the ‘CSconnected Strength in Places Fund’ project has deliverables in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and in the coordination of education and outreach initiatives. Both are essential to help overcome the skills barriers that are currently limiting the growth of the CS cluster.
Continuing Professional Development
A new report is available that identifies the short- to mid-term CPD needs and demand from the compound semiconductor industry in South Wales. The ‘Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scoping report - CSconnected Strength in Places Fund’ was first made available in November by Cardiff University’s CPD unit after consultations with the CSconnected industry partners to better understand how to support growth of the semiconductor cluster in South Wales.
This CPD Scoping Report forms a first-stage deliverable in the CSconnected SIPF skills work package that seeks to resource and accelerate the development of skills initiatives that will create the skilled workforce of the future for the region.
CPD aims to up-skill existing employees, re-skill professionals from related sectors (potentially those made redundant) and provide new skills in the latest research and technology developments. It also supports outreach and engagement initiatives through activities to upskill teachers, careers advisors and youth influencers, who are all essential to feeding the pipeline of the future workforce.
The report focuses on current gaps in provision and makes a series of recommendations about which CPD activities should now be prioritized for development.
Skills development will be essential to enabling growth of the CSconnected cluster, since the number of jobs is expected to more than double over the next three years. An aim is for CPD activities to reach more than 1000 semiconductor professionals by 2025, including employees from supply chain organizations.
CPD priority topics
The CPD topics being developed in first-half 2022 are:
- Introduction to compound semiconductors (with content also covering semiconductors and photonics);
- Cleanroom Protocols;
- Practical Cleanroom Skills (semiconductor manufacturing technologies in etching, wafer cleaving and wire bonding).
The intention is for these priority CPD courses to be available from summer 2022. They will be offered out on a chargeable basis and will be available to both individuals (looking to re-skill into the sector) and organizations (who are already embracing/plan to embrace compound semiconductor technologies).
Outreach & engagement
To further support the delivery of the CSconnected SIPF skills package, Cardiff University and CSconnected are scoping the design and delivery of a range of outreach activities that will be undertaken over the next four years to increase interest in STEM related subjects and careers. CSconnected SIPF is also represented on the Cardiff Capital Region Regional Skills Partnership (CCRRSP) board that support the delivery of a shared CCR employment and skills agenda for the City Deal and Welsh Government.