The electronics industry ready for crises

Present at the inauguration of the Symbiose factory of Lacroix Electronics, Frédérique Le Grevès, President of the Strategic Committee for the sector, and also CEO of STMicroelectronics France and Executive Vice-President of the group, in charge of public affairs in Europe and France, comes back for Alliancy on the challenges of the sector.

Alliance. Nearly three-quarters of electronic components are today produced in Asia. With only 8% of world production, what are the major challenges for Europe?

Frédérique Le Grevès, President of the Strategic Committee for the sector, and also CEO of STMicroelectronics France and Executive Vice-President of the group, in charge of public affairs in Europe and France

Frederique Le Greves. We can cite the difficulty of supplies, geopolitical tensions or even the strong dependence on raw materials which have really disrupted the interactions between the upstream and downstream of the sector and made the supply chain more complex.

Read also: In the Mauges, LACROIX inaugurates the “1st electronic assembly plant of the future”

However, if there are of course these challenges, there are also many opportunities. In 2030, the volume of the global semiconductor market will represent 1,000 billion dollars, i.e. a doubling compared to 2021. The challenge is therefore daunting: we must continue to develop production capacities like here at Symbiose or Crolles. for STMicroelectronics with Global Foundries, investing in innovation and research; and support training to maintain the excellence and influence of our industries.

What about the energy crisis?

Frederique Le Greves. Our sector is obviously affected by this crisis. At the request of the government, we are working on sobriety plans in order to optimally reduce our energy consumption. The additional costs generated are problematic for the entire sector and it is essential that the production units are recognized as strategic so as not to suffer from power cuts. Stopping a clean room can lead to great difficulties over weeks to restart it…

But it is also important to remember that we are part of the solution on energy sobriety! Thanks to our chips made in France, we can allow all everyday objects to consume less energy. Hence the importance of being supported by the public authorities in order to increase our production capacities to best serve customers like here at Lacroix.

Is there a consensus on this subject at European level?

Frederique Le Greves. Already, there is a global consensus! If we want to continue to be competitive in Europe and in France, we need this support. Whether in the United States, China or South Korea, all governments support manufacturers. TSMC has nevertheless managed to obtain 100% subsidization of a factory in Japan, between public aid and that of its customers.

The talent war in your sector is a real problem. You mentioned 18,000 vacancies in the sector in France. At STMicroelectronics alone, 1,000 recruitments are underway… How to act?

Frederique Le Greves. This is indeed a real problem! Many industries are now scrambling to recruit the same talent. And as Nicolas Dufourcq of BpiFrance regularly reminds us, many engineers prefer consultancy firms to industry… This whole image of our companies must be revisited to attract young people and especially women. We have to manage to make young people want to redo engineering training and when they do, to bring them into our professions. This is a crucial issue on which we are working.

The French electronics sector represents a turnover of 15 billion euros in 2021, 80,000 direct jobs (18,000 jobs are to be filled!), 170,000 indirect jobs and 8,000 public researchers.

Can we say that the recent health and geopolitical crises have served (or still serve) the renewal of the sector?

Frederique Le Greves. I will rather talk about opportunities. The current energy crisis is delicate, but it allows us to re-challenge ourselves, to go further and to be even more efficient. Admittedly, the clouds are gathering, but it’s easier to live with when you’re a solid company. We must therefore prepare for the future in terms of technologies and cost control… It will be difficult for some, but, for the moment, we have no catastrophic alert in our sector, but we are watching the situation closely of all our members to provide them with solutions. Our role is in particular to inform them about all the aid available if they can benefit from it.

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