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Calls for government to secure future of UK semiconductor industry

9 March 2023

Joint IOP-Royal Academy of Engineering report highlights issues of skills shortages, high costs and low public awareness.

The IOP has joined with the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) in calling for the government to act now to secure the future of the UK semiconductor industry.

A new report, UK Semiconductor Challenges and Solutions, compiled following a joint IOP-RAEng roundtable of science and industry experts, concludes that the UK’s role in this vital multi-billion-pound global industry is being held back by skills shortages, high costs and low public awareness of semiconductors. 

The IOP and RAEng are now calling for the government to urgently publish its long-awaited semiconductor strategy, saying it must tackle these challenges and support UK businesses to grow and compete in the fast-paced global race where frontrunners such as the US, China and Taiwan continue to dominate, and explore further the idea of a national institute to oversee the industry.

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 IOP’s Director of Science, Innovation and Skills, Louis Barson, called on government to act on the findings of the report: “The many challenges the UK semiconductor industry is facing are clear, from skills shortages to rising costs pricing out innovative small businesses. 

“This strategically crucial industry can power the technologies and jobs the UK needs – but its future cannot be allowed to be one of domestic underinvestment and extended, vulnerable global supply chains. The future economy depends on ensuring we have unobstructed access to critical technologies like semiconductors – and that starts with a strong homegrown industry.”

Professor Nick Jennings, Chair of RAEng’s Engineering Policy Centre Committee, said: “Government intervention is crucial to achieve strategic advantage for the UK, both in capitalising on commercial opportunities and improving the security of supply and resilience. Other countries are continuing to invest significantly in their own semiconductor industries and the UK will fall behind without timely government action and a coherent strategy.”

A pair of copper wire coil inductors in a workshop