As I discussed in my last blog, I am focusing on learning and talking about test engineers and the test engineering profession in the electronics industry. Currently with all the CHIPS Acts that have passed globally, the semiconductor industry has the money flowing; now we need to find and grow all the technical talent.
An article just published (Taipei Times, July 26) based on a study by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Oxford Economics states the US could be short 67,000 chip workers by 2030. Per the report, the US chip industry will grow to 460,000 workers, up from 340,000 today. Great news in terms of jobs and opportunities, but where will the technical talent come from is the next challenge. For more information here is a link to the article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2023/07/26/2003803735
I don’t know the exact number of semiconductor DFT and test engineers within that 120,000 growth of jobs (the article notes half will be engineers so that gives us a clue) that will be needed, but with new fabs, new chips and new end-products that all need to have test strategies and programs developed, just using common sense, it is substantial.
One area, though outside the US, that can help is Ireland.
Many US Semiconductor companies have operations in Ireland
ASSET has some experience in Ireland as we have a subsidiary with a team of engineers that have done a fantastic job for us over the years in Letterkenny, a northern Irish city, that is noted on the map in Figure 1. We have also had discussions over the years with the Irish Development Agency (IDA), that is an Irish government agency that helps support technology growth in Ireland, that were very positive. Thus, our experience is Ireland is a great place for semiconductor related initiatives with a very supportive environment from many angles: business, government, technology talent and tax perspectives.
Figure 1: Ireland and Northern Ireland
I recently read a May 16th article written by John Durcan, Chief Technologist at IDA Ireland in Electronic Purchasing and Supply chain that discusses the benefits of Ireland. He states Ireland has the highest level of STEM graduates per capita in the EU among 20 to 29 year olds. As is known, many US semiconductor suppliers have R&D operations in Ireland like Texas Instruments, Intel, AMD and others. Ireland has the Microelectronic Circuits Centre Ireland (MCCI), a national technology center that links the eight top Irish research centers that specialize in semiconductor design research. For more information here is a link to the article: https://epsnews.com/2023/05/16/u-s-semiconductor-firms-join-forces-with-europe-to-boost-chips/
Figure 2: Ireland research organization www.mcci.ie
From the details of John’s article and the experience we have had at ASSET, Ireland has a great foundation and ecosystem to help close the talent gap. Also, between the IDA and I assume the European CHIP Acts then money can flow to help.
The open issue that I will plan to reach out to some contacts in my network will be digging a bit deeper into semiconductor and system test engineering focused classes or training in Ireland universities or other venues. Also interested in learning about any IJTAG IEEE 1687 research and work going on to help advanced SoC testing. I’ll report back on those findings in a future blog. Always open to hearing from anyone with any inputs of activities going on in this area of test engineering.
Back to my focus on the US and recently I have had the pleasure of learning about a possible new initiative that is emerging locally in North Texas that over time can help address the talent gap for semiconductor engineers. Hope to share more details on that one as I learn more in another upcoming blog.