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BW Businessworld

India’s Semicon Wave Needs ‘Skills’ Anchor

As India leads the charge in this progressive journey, cultivating a specialised skill set becomes paramount. The focus is now on discovering or nurturing expertise in chip design, testing, and packaging to meet the industry's accelerating demands

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The semiconductor industry in India has possibly entered a golden age, driven by favourable market conditions and a surge in demand for electronics. The country finds itself riding the crest of the 'Semicon Wave,' propelled by the rapid rise of technology. Deloitte's 2023 semiconductor industry outlook report further solidifies this technological boom, projecting the global semiconductor chip industry to reach a staggering USD 1 trillion in revenues by 2030.

As India leads the charge in this progressive journey, cultivating a specialised skill set becomes paramount. The focus is now on discovering or nurturing expertise in chip design, testing, and packaging to meet the industry's accelerating demands.

According to a report by Talent 101, highlighted by Prashant A Bhonsle, founder at Kuhoo, the global semiconductor industry is poised to demand over one million skilled professionals by 2025. Notably, India itself is projected to require a minimum of 1.5 million skilled semiconductor workers by 2026-2027. These staggering figures underscore the pressing need for a well-trained and qualified workforce to sustain and thrive in the booming semiconductor sector.

Speaking with BW Businessworld, Bhonsle stressed that given India’s strong education system and young population, the country has a great scope if its trains the ECE and CE graduates for the semiconductor industry. “It will help us to emerge as one of the strongest countries to produce trained and skilled talent for the industry,” he said.

On similar lines Ashish Aggarwal, MD, Acube Ventures shared that the campus connects, redesigned curriculum and practical learning programmes can help to bridge the skill gap. Since a recent report by the Indian Semiconductor Association suggests that only 2 per cent of engineering graduates in India can fit into the semiconductor industry, Aggarwal's recommendation is extremely apt.

“It is important to push the nation at the forefront of the semiconductor market by promoting collaborative efforts among academics, industry, as well as government,” he added.

The Semi Talent Shortage

The Deloitte 2023 semiconductor industry study referenced earlier also highlighted the shortage in Indian semiconductor talent, which was at a weak point last year. It also predicted the worsening situation this year as the local chip-making race catches speed further exacerbating the shortage of skilled talent. In 2023, the semiconductor companies are expected to speed up hiring people with diverse skills for both building and automating manufacturing facilities, the report added pinning optimism on the semiconductor majors’ focus on chip design and tools talent.

Commenting on the organisations role in developing the Semicon talent Sachin Alug, CEO at NLB Services said, “It’s crucial for companies to collaborate with academic bodies to train aspiring professionals and come up with modules, frameworks and curriculums to solidify the new tech future.”

“Creating a skilled workforce for the growing semiconductor industry in India is of paramount importance for several reasons,” said Manikanth Challa, founder and CEO – Workruit. “Firstly, a skilled workforce enhances innovation and research capabilities. Secondly, a skilled workforce attracts foreign investments and thirdly, a skilled workforce contributes to a self-reliant ecosystem.”

Rahul Ahluwalia, Co-founder of FED (Foundation for Economic Development) said, “India should focus on building scale and high-volume exports at the other end of the value chain like electronics assembly and components, while simultaneously institutionalising strong industry-academia channels. Large-scale assembly and components manufacturing will create opportunities for both low-skilled labour as well engineering graduates, Ahluwalia suggested.”

Centre To ‘Not Miss’ The Semiconductor Ride

Given the current situation, it is evident that India is determined on its Semicon ride and is looking forward to strengthen its chip-making base. Solidifying this is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that emphasises on the Centre being committed to invest largely in Semicon skilling and training of young Indian talent considering the country's own semiconductor consumption that is on continuous growth, which is likely to cross USD 80 billion by 2026 and USD 110 billion by 2023. 

Elaborating on the significance of workers in chip-making, Ankit Shyamsukha, CEO, ICA Edu Skills and founder at IDCM said that the skilling gap in India's semiconductor and manufacturing industry cannot be ignored. It is crucial for all stakeholders, including the government, industry players and educational institutions, to collaborate and devise effective strategies to address this challenge.

Shiv Bhambri, Country Manager, RS India said organisations can support the Centre’s initiatives. He urged the chip-making industry to take a driver's seat on the Semicon ride. Underlining his company’s initiative ‘DesignSpark’, Bhambri emphasised it’s an attempt to allow budding engineers, innovators and industry experts to collaborate, network and innovate along with supporting STEM education to actively promote practical learning of chip making.

The creation of a skilled workforce for the semiconductor industry is essential for India to achieve its semiconductor goal, said Balasubramanian A, Vice President & Business Head, TeamLease Services. He said organisations’ initiatives can help to fill the gap in the semiconductor workforce and create new opportunities for Indian engineers.

To ensure competitiveness, a robust supply of skilled professionals in all areas of the semiconductor sector is crucial. The quicker we develop this skilled workforce, the sooner India can strengthen its position as a significant player in the semiconductor ecosystem, said Arun Kumar, Managing Partner, Celesta Capital.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Gupta, Chairperson of IESA (India Electronic and Semiconductor Association) said it is important for the nation to unite and solve the Semicon skilling gap. He said the doors to endless opportunities are possible if we unite, inspire, and propel the semiconductor industry to new heights, empowering India's journey toward global leadership.

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chip making semiconductors Skilling gap