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We’re facing a global compound semiconductor skills shortage: what now?

Mid adult female engineers working on robotic arm development
Mid adult female engineers working on robotic arm development
1,600 JOBS
in South Wales supported by the CS cluster in 2021
£194m GVA
growth in South Wales by the CS cluster in 2021
families engaged with outreach programmes in 2023 alone
Welsh schools in receipt of learning resources and pathways through Careers Advisors

Visiting and taking part in a collaborative workshop with Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult was really fascinating. The teachers and PGCE students that joined this session expressed their amazement at the work that goes on at the Catapult. Consequently, they can now speak confidently with their students about career opportunities in this exciting sector.

Keith Jones
Physics Teacher Coach and Project Manager, Institute of Physics

The vision of Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult is for the UK to become a global leader in developing and commercialising new applications for compound semiconductors. The Catapult is working with partners to identify skills gaps and future shortages, and to deliver solutions that build a specialised workforce, putting the UK at the forefront of a global compound semiconductor market.

Global revenue in the semiconductor sector was $601.7 billion in 2022, representing a 100.6% increase from 2012. Market analysis suggests that the industry’s aggregate annual growth could average from 6% to 8% a year up to 2030. [1]

In 2021, the South Wales Cluster directly supported £194 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) and 1,600 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees, alongside a further £83 million in GVA and 790 FTE jobs elsewhere in the Welsh economy.

Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, through its Skills Academy, have identified key points in the skills pipeline where the industry is losing expertise and has designed a suite of interventions to plug those leaks. These interventions range from primary school to post-doctoral level and beyond.

The Catapult leads three STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) outreach interventions targeting primary schools (through the Driving the Electric Revolution UKRI

[1] National semiconductor strategy – GOV.UK (

programme), and two bespoke programmes targeting Year 8, 10 & 11 learners, the latter of which “Spark their Imagination; Power their future” is delivered in partnership with UK Electronic Skills Foundation. Interns also play an active role in STEM outreach.

Furthermore, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult supports a Scholarship Programme providing a bursary and year-long internship for BEng/MEng students across five key technology areas. The programme, which can be completed over a two-year period, supports students financially, technically and equips them with essential transferable skillsets. Similarly, the Catapult sponsors PhD research at the CS Centre for Doctoral Training and the Sustainable Electrical Propulsion CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training).

Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult has begun a skills foresighting cycle, supported by The Gatsby Foundation and is feeding into the Foresighting Hub, developed in partnership with all Catapults and Innovate UK. This particular piece of work will look specifically at the 5G supply chain and what opportunities and challenges to overcome in terms of future skills and employment for the UK. The Catapult’s role in the CS Connected Skills and Education Group has fed into the National Occupational Standards Framework and consults on the industry CPD (Continued Professional Development) modules currently being developed by Cardiff University.

Our visit to Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult with a group of students was stimulating enough to inspire the next generation of female engineers! It was evident that the Catapult had put a huge amount of effort into making the session captivating and the girls in our class were really impressed.

Craig Williams
Head of Science, Caerleon School