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Securing talent is crucial if Korea wants to stay ahead in chip race

Korea

Semiconductor

Samsung Electronics

Microprocessor

Yoon Suk-yeol

线上实盘 北京股票配资个股查询,国内配资专业股票| 北京股票配资K线图官网网址Samsung Electronics’ chip manufacturing complex in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]   For Korea to keep a leading position in the global chip race, securing talent and stabilizing the supply chain should take priority, say experts.   A local fabless semiconductor company hired 60 new employees at the end of last year, most of whom are engineering majors. However, none of the new hires have started working and are still in training.   “We do not have that many applicants to hire in the first place, and even those who are hired are rarely chip engineering majors,” said a spokesperson for the company.   “We have to train them for about a year before assigning them to work”, explained the spokesperson.   The situation is unsurprisingly worse for small- and mid-sized companies.   “Even large companies are struggling to secure staff with chip expertise,” said the spokesperson. “Small- and mid-sized companies are begging universities for new recruits but still couldn’t bring in anyone.”   Though Korea is considered one of the frontrunners in the chip race, experts argue that the local chipmakers are facing a heap of challenges. Companies, regardless of their size, are grappling with a staffing shortage. The instability in the global supply chain also poses a threat to business.     Both industry and academic experts are urging the Yoon Suk-yeol administration to take immediate action in order to sharpen the competitive edge of the domestic semiconductor industry.   The JoongAng Ilbo compiled experts’ opinions to come up with 10 goals for the government, which are: expanding admissions quotas of chip engineering majors in universities; lifting regulations on chip plant construction and expansion; offering bigger incentives to encourage investments and research and development (R&D); ramping up support for the microprocessor sector; establishing a control tower to deal with global chip supply chain rearrangement; imposing policies to support merger and acquisition with overseas companies and to attract foreign companies to Korea; scaling up state-funded national projects in the chip R&D sector and expanding budgets; providing more support for domestic small- and mid-sized chip parts suppliers; helping localize the auto chip supply chain and cooperating with the industry to secure key technologies for next-generation chip manufacturing, such as artificial intelligence.   President Yoon Suk-yeol inspects a wafer during his visit to National Nanofab Center at KAIST in Dajeon, on April 29. [YONHAP]   The chip talent war is the most pressing issue, according to experts. Analysts forecast that the local industry will be short of about 30,000 chip staff for the upcoming 10 years.    “Out of 10,000 chip staffers hired by local companies every year, only 1,400 are chip engineering majors,” said Korean Society of Semiconductors and Display Technology President Park Jae-geun.     Park explained that Taiwan has been nurturing 10,000 chip experts every year for the past decade, and China 200,000.   Korea is facing chip war between the United States and China, and reorganization of the global semiconductor supply chain. [JOONGANG PHOTO]   “Regulations on universities in the greater Seoul area should be eased so that they can expand their admissions quotas in chip engineering majors,” said Park, “and we also need more graduate schools to nurture a bigger number of professional workers with master’s and doctorate degrees.”   “Companies are asking us to send more people, but we are running out of students,” said Kim So-young, a chip engineering professor at Sungkyunkwan University.   Kim said that the government should take an active role in expanding facilities for education and research.   “We need to establish more research facilities in universities such as the one in Seoul National University (SNU),” said Kim, “and state-funded national chip research facilities should be more invigorated.”   Chip independence is also an important agenda.     “Countries are establishing their own chip plants and supply chain, with the United States in the lead,” said Ahn Ki-hyun, executive director of the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association, arguing that Korea should also accelerate the localization of the chip production supply chain.     Lee Yoon-sik, head of the Institute of Semiconductor Engineers, emphasized that the government “should make gradual improvements across the industry” rather than focusing on just one part of the whole, as the semiconductor industry, technology, professional workforce and ecosystem are all closely connected to each other.     A special thanks to: Kang Gu-sang and Jeong Hyung-gon, researchers of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, Kim Bong-man, head of the Federation of Korean Industries’ international affairs department, Kim So-young, a chip engineering professor at Sungkyunkwan University, Kim Yang-pang, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, Kim Hyun-chul, a professor at the SNU Graduate School of International Studies, Kim Hyung-jun, head of the Post-silicon Semiconductor Institute under the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Park Jae-geun, president of the Korean Society of Semiconductors and Display Technology, Park Young-jun, a professor emeritus of electric engineering at the SNU, Ahn Ki-hyun, executive director of the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association, Lee Yoon-sik, head of the Institute of Semiconductor Engineers, Cheong In-kyo, a professor of international trade at Inha University.     BY KIM TAE-YUN, CHOI EUN-KYUNG, LEE SU-JEONG [shin.hanee@joongang.co.kr]

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