PSDC Collaborates With Inari to Power Up Penang's Semiconductor Future

By Iylia De Silva

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THE SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY has revolutionised communication, created new industries and jobs, and advanced technology in key areas such as medical devices; it also has the potential to address global challenges such as climate change. Whichever the case, it will definitely continue to shape the way we live our lives.

In order to power up the future of Penang’s semiconductor industry, the Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) has collaborated with Inari Amertron to design a programme called the Semiconductor Hands-on Industry Focused Training, abbreviated as SHIFT. This combined effort aims to supplement Penang’s estimated need for 150,000 knowledge workers, particularly in the Electronics and Electrical (E&E) field in the coming years. Proficiency in the latest technology and processes is crucial for high-skilled workers in the semiconductor industry.[i]

Closing the Gap

Lau Kean Cheong, the Chief Executive Officer of Inari Amertron, has long been a dedicated proponent of advancing the semiconductor industry. An idea sparked when he wanted to get fresh graduates onto a fast track to gain practical experience so that they could confidently enter the industry.

The idea was brought to life by Khor Eng Chuan, Inari’s Senior Training Manager, when he designed a three-level syllabus to rapidly enhance the skills of the interns, bridge the gap between theoretical study and practical experience, and create a pool of talented individuals to act as pillars of the growing industry. PSDC’s unwavering support in sourcing top-notch trainers further bolstered Inari's efforts to implement SHIFT effectively.

The SHIFT Programme  

SHIFT is a structured training curriculum aimed at upskilling and reskilling fresh graduates and the existing workforce for the semiconductor industry. The programme is carefully crafted to meet the industry's specific needs and to ensure that participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the latest technologies and trends.

Participants will, firstly, undergo a nine-day classroom training, encompassing three levels of learning before they continue with practical learning. Though brief in duration, this classroom training is specifically designed to thoroughly prepare participants to be hands-on at work, and to ensure that they are well versed in the latest technologies and processes.

The first level covers foundational aspects of the semiconductor environment. The knowledge acquired at this level is not only valuable for participants interested in pursuing a career in this field but also for those who may be interested in exploring other areas of engineering.

Next is equipping them with automation component knowledge and problem-solving methodology, both of which are essential in a fast-paced environment. By teaching participants how to quickly resolve process - and product-related problems, the programme prepares them to handle real-world scenarios with ease.

At this stage, participants are also taught to analyse data by utilising different tools, including the widely used Seven Quality Tools critical to improving processes, products and services in the manufacturing and service industries. Fatihah, a Quality Engineer and participant in the SHIFT programme concurs, “As a quality engineer, I have to solve any defects found. Learning problem-solving skills makes my work easier and faster, with a higher quality outcome.”

Finally, participants are schooled on the entire semiconductor process, from the wafer processing to backend test operation. Following this, they then proceed to gain invaluable hands-on experience, handling machinery and learning the practical aspects of the job under the guidance of a skilled supervisor. Aniq, a retained employee of Inari who completed the SHIFT programme, attests to its effectiveness in providing a smooth transition into the industry, “As an employee, I didn’t take too much time to understand my job."

On the Right Track

SHIFT, which started in November 2022, has proven to be a success.

To date, 154 interns have been trained through the programme, filling the gap between their existing skillsets and the demands of the semiconductor industry. Unlike traditional internship programmes, SHIFT accelerates the knowledge transfer from senior employees to junior employees, resulting in a greater understanding of their job responsibilities.

The programme received a slew of positive feedback from the industry and the interns who have completed it, which include diploma and degree interns, manufacturing specialists, supervisors, technicians and engineers. The enhanced skills of the workforce in Penang are expected to make the state even more appealing to semiconductor-based companies as a base of operations.

Penang has long been recognised as an ideal location for the semiconductor industry (with an established supply chain, favourable business environment and linguistic compatibility), but the need for practical experience is a crucial gap demanding to be filled to elevate Penang's status as a semiconductor hub. PSDC and Inari Amertron have begun on a journey to bridge this gap through the SHIFT programme, strengthening the state's reputation as a semiconductor hub.

The Long-Term Vision

Noorazidi Che Azib, the Deputy Vice President of Inari, stated that it is important to have a collaborative effort between regions, especially within Malaysia’s northern region.

“We cannot create borders, we have to collaborate,” he stresses, “and overcome physical limitations such as requirements of land and space.”

PSDC and Inari hope to inspire other companies in the industry to adopt a similar approach, expanding the talent pool and creating more opportunities in the semiconductor industry.

With a long-term vision in mind, Inari intends to evolve SHIFT to accommodate younger talents in the future, particularly those in their final years of secondary education, further solidifying their commitment to developing the next generation of skilled workers in the industry.

They also aspire to develop environment-friendly products, highlighting their commitment to sustainability. With such innovative programmes, they are set to trailblaze growth and progress in the industry.

Left to right: Noorazidi Che Azib, Lau Kean Cheong & Khor Eng Chuan.



Iylia De Silva

is a law graduate from the University of London. Balancing work and play, she savours every moment by indulging in her passion for food, languages, music and engaging with people from diverse cultures.