Opportunity for India As Global Semiconductor Sector Faces Talent Crunch

by Ujjawal Mishra - Jul 11, 2022 12:50 PM +05:30 IST
Opportunity for India As Global Semiconductor Sector Faces Talent CrunchEmployees at a semiconductor facility (Photo: Semi-Conductor Laboratory)

There is a concern globally around finding and keeping talent in the semiconductor space — a proactive India can address it.

Many media reports have the flagged the issue, with a focus on contract chip manufacturing giant TSMC, but pointing to a worldwide situation.

  • A report said TSMC "is having trouble getting engineers and keeping them on" in its factories or fabs.

  • EETimes reported that TSMC faces challenges managing employees at its new fab in Arizona who are unaccustomed to the long work hours and management culture.

  • Nikkei Asia published a report with the title: 'TSMC faces an uphill battle in U.S. talent war'.

  • Painting a broader picture, a story in The Register said, "While the global chip shortage shows some signs of subsiding, semiconductor companies are facing another area where demand outpaces supply: microelectronics engineers."

Matter of concern: Chipmakers like Intel, TSMC, and Samsung are all trying to expand their manufacturing capacity in the US, but this can't happen if there aren't enough engineers to design, fabricate, and verify the chips, among the other roles needed.

Issues in America: The US is yet to approve the $52 billion package through the CHIPS Act.

  • Industry leaders have expressed concerns.

  • Inflation and the anticipation of recession have led to some chip order cancellations.

  • Semiconductor fab equipment delays continue.

India's time to shine: PM Modi declared that India wants to be a "chip maker and not just a chip taker". India will need a good talent pool of engineers for building and operating fabs in the near future.

  • The India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) was launched to establish and handhold the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem in India.

  • Last week, while inaugurating the Digital India Week in Gujarat, Modi announced the first cohort of 30 institutions to be supported under the Chips to Startup (C2S) programme.

The C2S programme aims to train specialised personnel in the area of design of semiconductor chips at the Bachelors, Masters, and research levels, and act as a catalyst for the growth of startups involved in semiconductor design in the country.

  • It offers to mentor at the organisational level and make available to institutions state-of-the-art facilities for design.

  • This is part of the ISM to build a strong design ecosystem for semiconductors in India.

Train in India: The global talent crunch for semiconductor fabs (at various levels) can be an opportunity for India to "Train Indians for India and the World."

  • India already has many engineers who take courses related to microelectronics and VLSI and, thus, have a base in these domains.

  • What they lack is exposure to the industry and the feel for how methods and mindset can be different in the industry as compared to academics.

  • India can work out agreements with Taiwan, the US, and other countries that plan to build fabs and, in return, the companies that would like to hire them should be asked to avail India's incentive programme when the scheme opens for a second round.

  • It is quite likely that a lot of NRIs (non-resident Indians) in the industry may want to come back to India to train people, test the waters, and, if they see a "fab future" for India, decide to stay back and work in upcoming fabs in India.

  • The R&D facilities in various institutes like the IISc and IITs can be used and, as needed, selected trainees can be taken abroad for brief periods.

An eye on the future: The burgeoning Indian semiconductor manufacturing sector will also lead to the development of ancillary industries. India would do well to spot the opportunity and train people who can subsequently serve as a talent pool for the rest of the world, starting right here at home.

Read in full: Talent Crunch For Semiconductor Engineers Worldwide — Can India Strike Win-Win Deals?

Ujjawal Mishra is a Staff Writer at Swarajya. He tweets @Ujjawal1Mishra.
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