Talents in China’s semiconductor industry are expected to miss targets by a wide margin in 2024.
The grim prospects were discussed on November 18 at the World Conference on Integrated Circuits in Hefei city, the capital of Anhui province. Semiconductor Industry Watch also reported it on the same day.
The semi-official report believes China’s chip industry will need over 789,000 people to power it in the next two years, and this will be a third more than the local pool of qualified individuals.
The talent shortage for the chip design category is projected to reach 90,000 personnel. In manufacturing, the shortfall could reach 100,000, and in packaging and testing, that number is 35,000. The results were based on a survey of more than 2,000 Chinese chip firms and over 400 education institutes.
According to the South China Morning Post, the supply deficit has boosted the wage range. Guo Sheng, CEO of recruitment website Zhaopin, said at the conference that the average monthly payment for key positions in the industry hit 18,335 yuan (US$2,566) during the first nine months of 2022. This is a 12% year-on-year increase.
Guo said payment for first-rate chip employees could rise by half the current range.
Yet, the turnover rate in China’s chip industry has also been rising. As Semiconductor Industry Watch cited from human resources consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, the voluntary turnover rate in 2021 was 13.5%, and in 2020, that number was 8.9%.
Among rival companies, the talent paucity has also spurred a poaching war. Lai Linhui, vice president of Moore Elite, said the situation has been serious and urged corporations to instead focus on grooming their own talents.
The talent poaching headache has long bothered Taiwan, which saw many of its experts switching to devote their expertise to the mainland. Many of them hold a doctorate.
China has also aggressively sought personnel from the U.S to reach its self-sufficient goal. But now its aspiration is being tested by Washington’s chip curbs, one of which sought to restrict American citizens and green card holders from working in Chinese chip-fabrication plants.
Hsu Yu-jen, a former Taiwanese lawmaker now at Harvard University, told the New York Times that the restriction would force about 200 mainland and Taiwanese engineers to leave China or give up their American citizenship.
Hsu said Taiwanese involved in China’s semiconductor industry have been fearful of the ban, worrying about running into trouble with U.S. government intelligence agencies.