Samsung calls for "national-level" solution to solve U.S. semiconductor talent shortage

Daniel Chiang; Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Samsung has 27 years of experience in making chips in the U.S. Credit: AFP

Han Jin-man, who oversees Samsung Electronics' Semiconductor and Device Solutions (DS) business in the Americas, highlighted the shortage of semiconductor technology talent in the U.S. as a major obstacle for Samsung and urged for a national-level solution in a recent online conference.

According to a report by Korean media outlet Seoul Economics, Han Jin-man participated in the Six Five Summit 2023 on June 7 and spoke with the moderator on the topic of "Navigating the Semiconductor Landscape in the US" sharing his insights on the semiconductor supply chains in America.

On the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. semiconductor industry, Han said the U.S. enjoys the strength of having excellent semiconductor manufacturing equipment companies that continue to innovate around the world and its abundant human resources. Han said the U.S. government has provided Samsung with considerable assistance, "however, it is not easy to solve the problem of insufficient technical talents and engineers needed by Samsung in the future."

The U.S. has long focused on software technology, and not many students are studying engineering and science which are related to semiconductor technology, which requires a corresponding solution.

With the U.S. government passing the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022, global semiconductor companies are being attracted to invest in the United States. Samsung is aiming to start operations in the second half of 2024, investing $17 billion to build a new foundry in Tayler, Texas. Meanwhile, TSMC is committed to investing a total of US$40 billion in Arizona and is actively building a 3nm foundry line there.

However, compared to the active investment in facilities, it is very challenging for factory operations to secure sufficient technical R&D talent, especially in the semiconductor field, which requires high-level talent with master's degrees or higher and who cannot be trained in a short period of time. Han compared the challenge to "picking stars from the sky." U.S. semiconductor companies are also competing with South Korean companies for talent, said Han. Deloitte has estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of 70,000 to 90,000 semiconductor workers over the next few years.

SK Hynix vice president Jung Ho Park said in February 2023 that even if Samsung and SK Hynix nurture talents in the U.S., they will be snatched away by Intel and Micron. This time, Han emphasized the problem of insufficient manpower and overheated competition in the U.S. and urged the Biden Administration to come up with a solution.

In addition, Han also pointed out the advantages of Samsung foundries in the U.S. market, saying that not many companies have experience in operating foundries in the U.S., while Samsung has 27 years of foundry experience in Austin, Texas, and its production rate is even better than its South Korean factories.