Skilled labor shortages could be the next big chip supply problem

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Amid global labor shortages, the world's largest chipmakers are currently fighting for skilled talent to staff semiconductor production facilities and address chip constraints.

Global chipmakers face labor shortages. Credit: Brian Kostiuk/Unsplash
Global chipmakers face labor shortages. Credit: Brian Kostiuk/Unsplash


Global chipmakers are increasingly worried about a dwindling supply of skilled workers -- a problem that has been exacerbated by broader labor shortages, an uptick in demand for electronics, and a race among governments to bolster chip making capabilities, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

One chip executive told the publication that the industry is currently "in a war for talent."

Although chipmaking facilities are highly automated, they still require skilled workers to operate the high-tech equipment uses in the semiconductor manufacturing process.

Chipmakers are ramping up their fabrication footprints because of global chip supply issues. Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Samsung, and other chip companies have all pledged major expansion plans.

However, this boost in production capabilities requires skilled labor. In the U.S., for example, the industry will need to add 70,000 to 90,000 silicon workers by 2025 to meet the anticipated expansion.

According to 104 Job Bank, the recruitment gap is at its highest level in more than six years in Taiwan -- a global chipmaking powerhouse.

As a result, chipmakers say they are "stepping up [their] game" in attracting talent. That strategy includes higher wages, bolstered recruitment functions, and deepening ties with universities. However, interest in chipmaking has declined, with many college students preferring to find jobs in software or internet services.

A lack of highly skilled technicians in Taiwan could threaten the country's standing as the forefront of semiconductor production. In the U.S., chipmakers have lobbied lawmakers to allow them to hire candidates from abroad.

China is also expanding its chipmaking capabilities. The country's silicon labor force nearly doubled in the past five years. However, China had a shortage of around 250,000 engineers in 2020.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 4
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,991member
    Develop smarter AI to replace humans. Machines developing machines. Skynet is active.
    ravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 4
    This is where chip makers need to step in and work with universities or institutions. Many big corporations donate equipments to schools for training, research and hiring after graduation. Establishing mini or virtual chip fabrication lab in University maybe tough but something is needed to be done.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 4
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 599member
    This is where chip makers need to step in and work with universities or institutions. Many big corporations donate equipments to schools for training, research and hiring after graduation. Establishing mini or virtual chip fabrication lab in University maybe tough but something is needed to be done.
    They already do. A college near me has had a semiconductor manufacturing degree plan for over 20 years. Analog, Intel, Texas Instruments, and a few smaller manufacturers all hire the graduates. Now that TSMC is expanding into the US, I assume they will as well.

    What's really cool is the program also offers early enrollment and dual credit for people still in high school. Spend half your day at the high school, half your day at the college, and you have around 20 hours of college EE credit when you graduate high school.
    watto_cobraravnorodomdewme
  • Reply 4 of 4
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,249member
    zimmie said:
    This is where chip makers need to step in and work with universities or institutions. Many big corporations donate equipments to schools for training, research and hiring after graduation. Establishing mini or virtual chip fabrication lab in University maybe tough but something is needed to be done.
    They already do. A college near me has had a semiconductor manufacturing degree plan for over 20 years. Analog, Intel, Texas Instruments, and a few smaller manufacturers all hire the graduates. Now that TSMC is expanding into the US, I assume they will as well.

    What's really cool is the program also offers early enrollment and dual credit for people still in high school. Spend half your day at the high school, half your day at the college, and you have around 20 hours of college EE credit when you graduate high school.

    Yes indeed. Not only do individual corporations invest in academia and vocational training, they very often participate in international standards organizations and associations like SEMI (https://www.semi.org/en) that provide collaboration around standards and technologies that affect the entire industry, including forging relationships with member corporations, advisory bodies, technical committees, universities, trade organizations, and independent conformance and compliance organizations and labs that ensure the standards are followed so they are meaningful to manufacturers and consumers.

    Based on my experience, university participation starts at the earliest phases of standards development, while the technology is being considered for standardization. I don't know whether it's intentional or not, but having "competitively neutral" involvement from academia in standards development always struck me as one way to make it easier to get industry competitors to collaborate when their natural inclination leaned in other directions. So it's not just companies trying to plant seeds in academia for their own future benefit, it's academia influencing companies that would otherwise want to go in their own direction a way to agree on a common direction, at least for technologies that benefit from standardization. This is a very good thing in my opinion, but it in no way inhibits individual companies from forming one-on-one proprietary relationships with academic institutions. From what I've experienced, most leading companies like Apple do a combination of both, which makes perfect sense. 
    edited January 4
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