The talent factor in India’s semiconductor quest

Lawrence Wong Chee Yoong
CHRO, Vedanta Semiconductors

Building a talent pool for India’s semiconductor manufacturing industry | The article delves into the crucial role of talent in India’s semiconductor quest and offers insights into the specialised skillsets required to build a robust semiconductor ecosystem and compete at a global scale where this talent is increasingly in high demand.

Highlights

  • In India, there will be a requirement of 275,000 personnel in semiconductor chip design, 25,000 in semiconductor fabrication, and 29,000 in ATMP (Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging) facilities over the next decade.
  • India needs to support a thriving startup ecosystem for chip design and manufacturing which will feed into the industry.
  • To make India an even more attractive destination for global talent, India needs to build social infrastructure and services for domestic companies
    to be able to attract global talent.
  • Vedanta’s strategy includes recruiting experienced global semiconductor professionals and cultivating a semiconductor manufacturing culture capable of international competition.

The race to secure top-tier talent in the semiconductor world has been underway for some time. Why, you ask? Because talent can make or break a thriving semiconductor ecosystem. A Reuters news report from August 2023 highlighted this critical need to attract topnotch talent to the semiconductor industry. It shone a light on China’s “Thousand Talents Plan” (TTP), a government-led program running for over a decade and a half. The TTP is enticing high-calibre global talent with attractive incentives, including substantial signing bonuses ranging from three to five million yuan (equivalent to $420,000 to $700,000). The reason for such lavish packages is the global semiconductor talent shortage.

According to Deloitte, by 2030, we’ll need over a million skilled hands to fuel the semiconductor industry. That’s more than 100,000 new recruits every year! The United States is on the brink of a semiconductor manufacturing boom thanks to significant federal investment, but the key concern is whether there will be enough workers to meet the surging demand.

McKinsey has projected a shortfall of about 300,000 engineers and 90,000 skilled technicians in the United States by 2030.Saxony, in Germany, where every third semiconductor made in Europe is manufactured, is also witnessing talent shortage. Germany is trying to get ahead of this through various steps, including focusing on education and upskilling and reforming its immigration laws to make it easier for international skilled workers to come to Germany.

Exploring India’s Semiconductor Talent Landscape

Now, let’s shift the spotlight to India, which is looking to become a new hub for semiconductor manufacturing. But the question is how does the country address the need for highly skilled talent in the sector? Recognizing the enormity of the challenge, the Indian Government has been proactive. In August 2022 it established the Semicon India Future Skills Talent Committee, tasked with delving deep into this matter and crafting a roadmap for positioning ‘India as a Semiconductor Talent Nation’.

Fast forward a year, and they unveil their findings, which read like a ‘Help Wanted’ advertisement: 1.2 million skilled folks needed in the semiconductor sector by 2032. This will include those with qualifications ranging from diplomas and undergraduates to master’s and PhD degrees, as well as hands-on training and experience.

The demand spans across the board, from chip design to fabrication and packaging. There will be a requirement of 275,000 personnel in semiconductor chip design, 25,000 in semiconductor fabrication, and 29,000 in ATMP (Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging) facilities over the next decade. These form the core around which the rest of the ecosystem will revolve – upstream and downstream the supply chain.

To build a robust semiconductor ecosystem, India knows the importance of nurturing global-standard talent and that quality education is the cornerstone. Key initiatives have been undertaken, including the revision of curricula to offer diplomas and degrees in fields relevant to the semiconductor industry. The All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has taken the lead in establishing a curriculum for BTech in Electronics (VLSI Design and Technology) and Diploma in IC manufacturing. To ensure sufficient talent pipeline for the semiconductor industry, the government must continue investing in the development of robust academic programmes. But it’s not just about textbooks and classrooms.

India also needs to support a thriving startup ecosystem for chip design and manufacturing which will feed into the industry and will be an essential component of readiness for establishing a foundry, where the actual chip is fabricated.

Another crucial aspect of creating the ecosystem in India involves collaborative corporate initiatives. Vedanta, a leading corporation that plans to build India’s first semiconductor fab, has taken proactive steps to upskill its talent pool. The company’s strategy includes recruiting experienced global semiconductor professionals and cultivating a semiconductor manufacturing culture capable of international competition.

This approach not only brings valuable global expertise to the sector but also serves as a mechanism for fostering local talent. Experienced semiconductor leaders of Vedanta with global exposure will help nurture local talent for future growth of the industry. Approximately 200-300 workers are likely to be trained and inducted by the time fab construction begins. The company also plans to collaborate with Indian universities to curate and design relevant curriculum. Herein lies the opportunity to build a talent bridge between the government and the industry.

To ensure a steady flow of skilled local talent to India’s nascent semiconductor manufacturing industry, it is crucial to provide students with real hands-on training through internships. These internships will give students valuable practical experience to enhance their skills, ultimately strengthening India’s semiconductor talent pool.

Creating an Attractive Environment

To make India an even more attractive destination for global talent, India needs to roll out the welcome mat. An important element is building social infrastructure and services for domestic companies to be able to attract global talent. Relocating to a new country can be daunting, especially when it comes with a side of cultural differences. To make the transition easier for the global talent and their families, efforts must be made to enhance living spaces, transportation networks, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities, especially in areas earmarked for semiconductor fabs like the Dholera Special Investment Region.

There is a significant talent cost associated with growing the semiconductor industry in India. Whether it is attracting in-demand global talent, training domestic workers for high precision semiconductor ecosystem or creating social infrastructure in a greenfield location like Dholera, all of it comes with a price tag. By creating the right environment India can build a globalized and experienced talent pool, encourage competitiveness and innovation, and fast-track its semiconductor industry’s growth.

Ultimately, the long-term success of the Indian semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem will depend upon the collaborative effort between all the stakeholders – government, academia, and industry to overcome the talent challenge and position India as a key player in this critical sector.

https://hr.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/hrtech/talent-acquisition-and-management/the-talent-factor-in-indias-semiconductor-quest/105289676

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