BoI backs engineer training to support chip industry dev’t

THE Board of Investments (BoI) said it will support programs to train 128,000 engineers and technicians over four years in support of chipmakers in the Philippines.

In a statement, the BoI said it will invest in semiconductor design training and is currently looking to invite investors to establish a lab-scale wafer fabrication plant.

“Utilizing a more generic technology for commercial and educational purposes, the wafer fab lab aims to train and upskill the workforce, while enabling the local industry to do prototyping and some tape outs of semiconductor chip designs in the country instead of bringing them all the way to Taiwan,” the BoI said.

It added that it is already “finalizing” plans to train 128,000 engineers and technicians by 2028.

The BoI recently met with State Department Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez, who committed to facilitate Philippine access to the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP).

The MSP is a transnational association that aims to encourage investment in critical minerals supply chains globally. It is a collaboration of 13 countries and the European Union.

According to the BoI, the Philippines will be among the six countries the US will be supporting under the CHIPS Act as the US recognizes the potential of its semiconductor industry.

“The assistance will be focused mainly on assembly, testing, and packaging. In a proactive move, the US also announced that its International Development Finance Corp. will establish a more permanent presence in the Philippines by February,” it added.

Aside from the Philippines, the US will be targeting participation in its CHIPS Act programs for Vietnam, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

Under the CHIPS Act, a $500-million International Technology, Security, and Innovation Fund was earmarked to be spent over the next five years in the partner countries and territories.

“We welcome this strategic collaboration with the US in semiconductors and critical minerals. This partnership not only reinforces the Philippines’ position as a key player in the global economy but also opens avenues for mutual growth and innovation,” BoI Managing Head and Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said.

In terms of commodity groups, electronic products, which include semiconductors, remained the top Philippine export in 2023, accounting for $41.9 billion.

Specifically, semiconductors accounted for $33.67 billion of Philippine exports last year. — Justine Irish D. Tabile