China’s semiconductor talent shortage poses biggest obstacle to Beijing’s chip self-sufficiency ambitions, SMIC founder says
- Richard Chang Rugin, founder of chip maker SMIC, sees no easy fix for the low supply of semiconductor talent in the world’s second-largest economy
- China’s chip self-sufficiency efforts are also complicated by the global semiconductor shortage and tensions between Beijing and Washington
Chang, 73, said cultivating talent in the country’s semiconductor industry is “not only about academic education, but also practice”, such as experience in factories.
His assessment of the imbalance in manpower supply and demand in the industry is backed by recent market data.
There were almost 512,000 people working in China’s semiconductor industry at the end of 2019, which would hardly meet the sector’s demand for a workforce of 745,000 by 2022, according to a white paper from the China Centre for Information Industry Development.
The lack of semiconductor talent, however, has led Chinese semiconductor firms to lure more talent from Taiwan, especially veteran executives.
“The whole world is facing chip shortages, from the car industry to home appliances,” he said. “[But] China faces more difficulties because of the political and economic sanctions imposed by other countries.”
There’s a global semiconductor shortage and this is why it matters
Still, Chang continues to be involved in China’s semiconductor supply chain development efforts.
Chang, who moved to Taiwan from Shanghai at a young age, received his bachelor’s degree in the island and earned his PhD in Texas. In 1977, he joined US semiconductor firm Texas Instruments, where he worked for about 20 years and was involved in the development of factories in various countries.