The semiconductor industry in China needs to hire at least 200,000 more workers. This forecast is very reliable for a reason: it comes from a study carried out jointly by the Center for the Development of the Information Industry, which is an organization that depends on the Chinese government, and the China Semiconductor Industry Association.
This Asian country of continental proportions needs to attract new talent to its chip industry. Otherwise, it will not be able to overcome the pressure that the United States at the head of the Western alliance is exerting on it with the purpose of strangling its technological and weapons development. The Netherlands and Japan are the main manufacturers of photolithography equipment, and have already confirmed that their most advanced machines will not make it to China.
At this extremely delicate juncture, the Xi Jinping Administration only has one option: to become completely independent from foreign countries by developing its own integrated circuit production technology. The problem is that this strategy requires investing a lot of resources. China has them, so a priori this is not the biggest challenge it faces. Your biggest challenge is time..
It took ASML approximately two decades to fine-tune its extreme ultraviolet (EVU) photolithography equipment. And it had the help of American, German and other companies and research teams, as well as the financial backing of large investors. China’s medium-term plan involves setting up an international technology and innovation center in Hong Kong inspired by the strategic model that has given Singapore such good results. Above all, however, it needs to attract both domestic and foreign talent.
The demand for qualified personnel for the chip sector is through the roof
The law of supply and demand does not give up. We all know how it works in terms of prices: if the demand for a product falls, its price falls. If, on the contrary, the demand increases, its price will increase. Something very similar happens in the workplace. If companies need qualified personnel and find it difficult to find them They will be forced to compete with each other. to attract the attention of people who fit the profile they are looking for. And the most effective way to catch talent is to raise wages.
If companies need qualified personnel and find it difficult to find them, they will be forced to compete among themselves.
This is just what chip makers in China are doing. In fact, right now the minimum wage that they are offering to people who come to this industry doubles what they were offering just a few months ago. And a good part of these candidates are people who have just finished their engineering studies and, therefore, still do not have work experience in this sector. Apparently the economic conditions are so good that even people with training in other areas are retraining to join the Chinese semiconductor industry.
However, China is running into a serious problem. Their companies not only have trouble finding the highly-skilled people they need; Furthermore, the Chinese educational system is not responding to their needs. This has caused the government to decide be inspired by the model of Taiwan and the United Stateswhich encourages companies to have a direct and very close relationship with universities to adapt student training to the real needs of the industry and encourage research.
The strategy that the Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer TSMC has been implementing for years confirms that this model works. This company currently has the most advanced lithographic nodes (only Samsung is managing to keep up) and has 54% of the market. It is evident that he is doing well. And the way in which it obtains the personnel it needs is through having highly advanced research centers within the country’s main universities. In Taiwan, a three-year graduate student only spends six months in class. During the rest of the time, he completes his training in research centers or in the semiconductor companies themselves.
Cover image: TSMC
More information: Reuters
In Xataka: In the nanometer war, not only Intel, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and Samsung fight; who rules in the shadow is ASML
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