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Philippine electronics industry beefs up engineering capabilities

Posted: 17 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Selena Salang? Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc.? SEIPI? ASEAN Summit? PSi Technologies?

Young: Our goal is to meet or beat last year's investment targets, which rose to $776 million in 2005 from $443 million in 2004.

Long considered a minor player in the global electronics game, the Philippine electronics industry is rallying itself to step up to the plate with two key points in mind: cooperation and education.

Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI), the largest organization of foreign and local IC and electronics companies in the country, recently announced initiatives that will strengthen the local industry's engineering capabilities and boost its global competitiveness.

An electronics forum is planned for December this year to coincide with the 12th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Cebu City, Philippines. At this meeting, SEIPI will convene the top 5 MNCs and top 5 local electronics companies of each ASEAN country to promote free trade and cooperation within the ASEAN, and discuss customs procedures, duty-free electronics products and technology transfer among member nations.

"The ASEAN electronics forum aims to advance inter-ASEAN movement of electronic products," said Ernie Santiago, executive director of SEIPI. "This will give the region an advantage and may enable us to collectively compete with big players like China."

Better education
Another way for the Philippine industry to compete, said Santiago, is through SEIPI's scholarship program for engineering students. SEIPI is targeting 600 MS and 200 PhD students for courses that include materials science, microelectronics design, failure analysis/simulation and next-level applications such as multimedia, analog and RF.

"We simply need to have this kind of talent in our labor force. We're trying to drive the enhancement of this part of the Philippine educational system," said Arthur Young, president of SEIPI, and chairman and CEO of PSi Technologies Inc., a power IC assembly and test services provider.

Santiago said that SEIPI is expecting 49 graduates from the program in the next two years. "We plan to have this as a continuing program of our industry so that we can enhance the competencies of engineers employed by SEIPI member companies."

Art Tan, CEO of Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI), an EMS provider, also announced that a consortium of 17 engineering universities in the Philippines is planning to have their engineering programs certified by the Washington Accord. The multinational agreement recognizes equivalency of accreditation systems of member organizations, and the engineering education programs accredited by them. If certified by the Washington Accord, graduates of accredited programs will be prepared to practice engineering at the entry level in member nations, including the United States, Australia and Japan.

'Brand Philippines'
In line with the local industry's spirit of cooperation, IMI and PSi Technologies recently announced an agreement to leverage the two companies' engineering capabilities and promote the Philippine brand in the global power market. The alliance will combine IMI's EMS expertise with PSi's services to provide total turnkey power solutions from beginning to end from the Philippines.

"IMI has strategically formed an alliance with PSi so that, in the event that a customer requires not only that company's capability in providing power components, we can also provide a streamlined supply value chain in building the product for them," said Tan.

Young said that the two companies are in complementary fields of the power business, and that it is important for them to pool their resources to promote further growth for the Philippine electronics industry.

"This is really about how we can bring two Filipino global companies to make us a stronger brand'Brand Philippines,' as we can call itwhere we can really provide a total turnkey here in the Philippines," he said.

Young said what is missing in the Philippine electronics industry is "more integration, more local content. We'd really like to drive local content, and we know that putting our resources together will certainly place us in the right direction."

- Selena Salang
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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