The semiconductor workforce, estimated to exceed two million direct semiconductor workers worldwide by 2021, will need to grow by more than one million additional skilled workers by 2030, according to Deloitte’s outlook for the semiconductor industry for 2023. That means adding about 100,000 workers annually, the report said.
While the industry has seen shortages in some positions, there have been layoffs in others at the same time. The talent problem is acute in Asia, where four countries in East Asia – China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan – produce about 80% of all chips.
“Each country faces a unique set of challenges to grow their talent pool, even as they try to establish their own domestic chip manufacturing capabilities,” Deloitte said.
Addressing and balancing the semiconductor talent equation is a key area that Deloitte has recommended to the semiconductor industry in 2023.
This feeling comes back in a 2022 Accenture reportnoting that if the U.S. chooses to focus on meeting even domestic demand for only critical semiconductor applications – such as automotive, home appliances, aerospace and defense – the country would need between 18 and 20 additional manufacturing facilities with 70,000 up to 90,000 highly skilled personnel.
Additional talent is needed to decentralize the semiconductor industry
A less concentrated chip industry, both in terms of manufacturing and assembly and testing, could help U.S. and European industries that rely on chips, the Deloitte report said.
“An industry that operates in more locations needs more talent, and more distributed talent, to make trillions of dollars worth of chips,” it said.
This year, Deloitte suggests that chip companies consider adopting a variety of skills more quickly for both building and automating their manufacturing facilities and designing chips and tools.
“Their talent challenges are compounded by the urgent need to build large-scale fab facilities across multiple regions,” the report said. “So they need to accelerate the hiring of a range of skills: electricians, pipe fitters and welders; technical engineers, maintenance personnel and specialists in smart factory automation; and electrical engineering graduates to design chips and the tools and manufacturing processes that make the chips.”
Also, chipmakers in Europe and the Americas are expected to need a mix of specialized personnel to build back-end assembly and testing facilities given the push to overhaul supply chains.
“These job groups have different training and education needs, and skills within these job groups are evolving as a result of automation, digitization and advancements in semiconductor technology,” said Deloitte. “So the chip industry should probably work with universities and technical schools; working more closely with local technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges; and support national institutions specializing in STEM areas.”
The competitive job market of the semiconductor industry
The talent shortage is compounded by the lure of job opportunities within major technology companies, auto companies, consumer electronics manufacturers and professional services firms, all of which attract qualified semiconductor talent with competitive compensation packages and promises to change the world, the Accenture report said.
“Semiconductor companies, with less defined brand equity and fewer competitive advantages in the marketplace, continue to struggle to build the diverse, high-profile workforce needed to meet demand in the near term and explore the next frontier of innovation,” said Accenture.
Companies are taking unusual strides in the race to add jobs and connect with emerging generations. For example, Intel has been running Sunday Night Football ads to attract new tech talent and has announced $2.4 billion in cash and stock incentives to retain key personnel, according to the Accenture report.
“Overall, semiconductor companies are losing the battle for talent – severely hampering meeting domestic demand for only critical semiconductor applications,” the report said.
Even with a concentrated focus on education investment in science, technology, engineering and math, “the talent pipeline remains narrow,” Accenture noted.
How AI and automation can alleviate the talent shortage problem
The Deloitte report pointed to some good news: New advancements in AI chip design tools, especially the physical layout, are enabling companies to produce better chips faster and use fewer people, allowing scarce talent to focus on the most urgent problems.
The Accenture report, meanwhile, had less optimistic news to offer, although there is a workaround.
“Many semiconductor powerhouses are lagging behind other technology players in implementing core automation solutions, leaving them with less time to free up employees to focus on higher-value activities,” said Accenture. “This, coupled with rising costs to find, hire, onboard and retain semiconductor talent amid an increasingly competitive cross-industry talent war, makes automation an attractive mechanism to help semiconductor companies reshape their workforce.”
Embedded properly, automation should alleviate the demand for hard-to-reach technical talent.
“This should be done in parallel with increasing the supply of skilled resources to better position the semiconductor industry to meet the urgent need for qualified STEM professionals,” said Accenture.
How to develop and retain diverse talent pools
In addition to skills development, the Deloitte report noted that the chip industry may need to join forces with several local governments to improve skills interchangeability and mobility between regions, gain support in the form of favorable immigration policies for talent and aid for local recruiting and skills. based training.
As a result of years of mergers and acquisitions and consolidation, many semiconductor companies may have to find a better way to integrate the various talents, the report said. From an organization standpoint, chip companies should strive to develop strong and diverse talent pools in their ranks.
To achieve this, semiconductor companies must maintain a diversity, equity and inclusion mindset. Companies need to recruit women and other underrepresented demographics, both in technical and leadership roles.
“They probably need to figure out ways to retain talent and show long-term career growth trajectories for professionals,” Deloitte said. “In the future, the technical skills the industry needs will move away from purely hardware (where the industry has historically been strong) and become more about software.”
This requires new approaches to recruiting and training talent.
“Semiconductor companies can get greater rewards by reframing the solution from ‘retraining’ to ‘skill,'” Accenture said.
Semiconductor companies that focus their recruiting efforts more on diverse and alternative skills “are likely to provide a needed edge to the STEM recruiting war,” the report continued.
Accenture also recommends that these companies train recent graduates to fill open technician and process engineer positions and upskill them to meet demand. According to the report, this strategy is “both cost-effective and achievable in the short term.”
The report also pointed out that even before high-potential STEM students reach their college campuses, “they have already developed strong perceptions of prestigious technology companies … above the highest-ranked semiconductor leaders.”
These companies include software giants such as Google, Apple and Microsoft, aerospace players such as Lockheed, Boeing and NASA, and automotive leaders such as Tesla, General Motors and Ford.
“This reaffirms how disadvantaged semiconductor companies are in terms of brand equity, meaning standard college recruiting tactics will fail to attract highly valued STEM talent,” the report said. “Deploying a one-size-fits-all recruiting approach is a vast underestimation of the complexity of the STEM talent war.”
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