The Future is Bright, It’s here: Semiconductor Industry

-PVG Menon, CEO, Electronics Sector Skill Council of India (ESSCI)

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Given today’s rapid technological innovation, the semiconductor industry can look forward to growth. The semiconductor industry has been a pioneer in digitization since its inception, offering digital services and pursuing new digital business models. Today, other industries, notably automotive, have clearly outpaced the semiconductor industry in terms of digitisation. That’s ironic, given that automakers’ own success in digitization has been largely supported by the products made by the semiconductor industry. Now, artificial intelligence will likely be the catalyst that will drive another decade-long growth cycle for the semiconductor sector.

In the months after the coronavirus began to spread, semiconductor companies moved decisively to protect employees, secure supply chains, and address other pressing concerns. Although semiconductor companies that begin revising their long-term strategies now may emerge stronger in the next normal.

In this article, we’ll examine what semiconductor industry is, why it’s important and what skills are required to go in this filed:

Market overview – uncertain times ahead

The semiconductor consumption in India was about $21 billion in 2019, growing at the rate of 15.1 per cent, according to IESA ESDM Market Report 2020 done in association with F&S. The overall consumption of Electronics component is $31 billion dollars, of which about 2/3 is semiconductors. Recently, IESA conducted its Vision Summit 2020 event to drive initiatives and policies for the Intelligent Electronics & Semiconductor products and solutions that will propel the government’s vision of a self-reliant or an ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’.  Such trends reflect sustained confidence among many investors and businesses in the semiconductor space over the medium to long term – especially in 5G, autonomous cars, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things, optoelectronics and sensors.

This sentiment stems from the economic aftermath of COVID-19 generally. The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), for instance, highlighted declining global sales in the first quarter of 2020 – by 3.6% compared with the previous quarter.

Education and Training

Many employers prefer that semiconductor processors have an associate’s degree in a field such as microelectronics. These programs are usually offered at community colleges. Students should take science and engineering courses, such as chemistry, physics, and classes in electronic circuits.  ESSCI have developed many Qualification Packs in the field of Embedded System, IoT , VLSI Design & Verification Engg  which can help the candidate in gaining the appropriate knowledge required as per industry demand.

There is an emerging trend of employers preferring semiconductor processors to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a physical science because of the increasing complexity of the manufacturing plants. New semiconductor processors need on-the-job training from 1 month to 1 year. During this training, a processor learns how to operate equipment and test new chips. Manufacturing microchips is a complex process, and it takes months of supervised work to become fully proficient. Because the technology used in manufacturing microchips is always evolving, processors must continue to be trained on new techniques and methods throughout their careers.

Semiconductor Position Types

While there are a number of career opportunities throughout the semiconductor industry, here are a few types of positions that we typically recruit for within the industry.

  1. Field Service Engineer – As a Field Service Engineer, you will be responsible for quality machine installation and maintenance service of complex electro-mechanical systems; analytical troubleshooting of technical problems to component level; and performing complete installation, maintenance services, and technical reporting.
  2. Equipment Technician – In this role, you will perform electrical and mechanical troubleshooting and preventative maintenance on semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
  3. Test Technician – Test Technicians are responsible for mechanical and/or electrical testing of materials, devices, and products as well as test fixturing and general test equipment maintenance.
  4. Technical Trainer – As a Technical Trainer, you will be required to have in-depth knowledge and experience using best practices of internal or external business concepts to improve training products or services. You will solve complex problems; take a new perspective using existing solutions; work independently receiving minimal guidance; and act as a resource for colleagues with less experience.
  5. Product Support Engineer – In a Product Support Engineer role, you will be in charge of providing effective support for products developed in an organization, as well as testing and providing technical troubleshooting during development, and creating a product support plan to provide maintenance.
  6. Integration Engineer – As an Integration Engineer, you will be responsible for the development and testing of control systems for engines using digital electronics and communications. It is important for Integration Engineers to understand control systems, subsystems, and component requirements of all systems.
  7. Project Coordinator – Project Coordinators will have the responsibility of planning, procurement, and execution of a project, in any undertaking that has a defined scope, defined start and a defined finish; regardless of industry. Project Coordinators and Managers are the first point of contact for any issues or discrepancies arising from within the heads of various departments in an organization, before the problem escalates to higher authorities.

Work Schedules

Most employees work full time. Because semiconductor factories, also known as fabricating plants, run around the clock, night and weekend work is common for these workers. Although some plants schedule workers for the standard 40-hour week (8-hour shifts, 5 days a week), others schedule workers in 12-hour shifts.

Demand for talent – new opportunities emerge

From a recruitment perspective, meanwhile, market trends are paving the way for several thousand new jobs in the years ahead. The deployment of 5G will not only provide new growth opportunities for the wireless industry; it will also boost economic recovery due to the acceleration of wireless take-up for businesses globally plus rapidly changing consumer behaviors. The introduction of numerous semiconductors in connection with autonomous driving, AI and low-power semiconductors will lead upticks in demand, plus optoelectronics is likely to experience growth in 2021. These opportunities are bringing with them a growing need from Junior to senior professional – to drive strategic direction and business growth.

Candidate should also possess the following specific qualities:

  1. Communication skills: Semiconductor processors must clearly communicate their recommendations on how to improve the manufacturing process to engineers and other workers.
  2. Computer skills: Much of the equipment that these workers use is programmable—that is, a computer language determines how the equipment operates. Semiconductor processors must modify the specifications in programs to adjust for a change in the manufacturing process, such as a change in robot sensing requirements.
  3. Critical-thinking skills: Semiconductor processors use logic and reasoning to uncover problems and determine solutions during the manufacturing process.
  4. Detail oriented: Because a minor error or impurity can ruin a chip, processors must be able to spot tiny imperfections.
  5. Dexterity: Semiconductor processors must be able to use tools and operate equipment to make precise cuts and measurements.
  6. Science skills: Processors must understand the chemical composition and properties of certain substances that they may use in manufacturing semiconductors. They need to know a lot about electronics and about the manufacturing process, which involves the application of ideas from chemistry and physics.

How to enhance your career in Semiconductor industry

We believe there are 5 specific steps that forward-thinking candidates can take to increase their appeal to employers within the semiconductor industry:

  1. Be proactive in developing themselves – via self-learning activities, candidates must not let themselves be restricted by the attributes required for their current positions, and instead get up-to-date on market trends, and refresh and enhance their skills and knowledge.
  2. Volunteer for new or additional projects – by participating on a pro bono basis in industry initiatives and applying talent to areas of work beyond their core function, candidates can grow their mental agility, plus become more open-minded and flexible.
  3. Relocate for a certain period of time – in offering to move to a new location or take on a new role, candidates can get experience of new projects and positions, learn about different cultures and build a broader knowledge of the market.
  4. Participate in networking – in trying to be more outgoing and interact with industry peers, candidates can broaden their horizons and get exposure to a variety of people and trends, in turn expanding their understanding of different markets.
  5. Getting the right support – by aligning with a specialist recruiter who understands the emerging trends within the semiconductor industry, candidates can not only understand hiring trends, but also gain access to a range of exciting opportunities within their own country and overseas.

The semiconductor industry has become a strategic sector and has a tremendous economic impact. Recently announced policies (PLI, SPECS and EMC2.0) are the steps in the right direction and will create a new opportunities for the skilled professional.

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