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Semiconductor Mega Trends and Career Opportunities

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DR ABHILASHA GAUR

The semiconductor industry is experiencing a profound transformation, propelled by technological advancements, market dynamics, and global initiatives. In India, this transformation is particularly significant, as the nation emerges as a key player in the semiconductor landscape. Let’s delve into the mega trends shaping the semiconductor industry in 2024, the career opportunities they present, and the role of the Electronics Sector Skills Council of India (ESSCI) in preparing professionals for this dynamic field.

Semiconductor Applications Across Diverse Fields:
Semiconductor chips serve as the fundamental building blocks powering a vast array of applications, wielding control over power management, enabling intricate power electronics systems, and orchestrating indispensable functions within electronic devices. From the ubiquitous smartphones and computers to the intricate network of IoT devices, semiconductor chips form the backbone, fuelling innovation and driving the seamless integration of technology into our daily lives. “Driving Automotive Innovation: Semiconductor technology has spearheaded transformative advancements in the automotive sector, ushering in a new era of intelligent and dependable vehicles. By seamlessly integrating semiconductor components, automobiles have evolved to possess heightened intelligence, unparalleled reliability, and superior performance. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) rely on semiconductor solutions for critical features such as collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. “Revolutionizing Telecommunications: Semiconductor innovation is at the forefront of transforming the telecommunications landscape. With the emergence of 5G networks, semiconductor solutions are crucial for powering base stations, antennas, and network infrastructure, enabling faster data speeds, lower latency, and unparalleled connectivity. In addition to network infrastructure, semiconductor chips are integral to the development of smartphones, enabling advanced features such as AI-driven cameras, augmented reality, and facial recognition. “Empowering Healthcare Technologies: Semiconductor technology is revolutionizing healthcare by driving advancements in medical diagnostics and patient care. Medical imaging devices, including MRI and CT scanners, heavily rely on semiconductor components for signal processing and image reconstruction, enabling precise diagnostics and treatment planning. Semiconductor chips also power medical monitoring devices such as wearable fitness trackers and smart health monitors, allowing for continuous health tracking and remote patient monitoring. “Transforming Hearables and Wearables: The integration of semiconductor technology has led to remarkable advancements in hearable and wearable devices, revolutionizing the way we interact with technology. Hearables, such as wireless earbuds and smart headphones, leverage semiconductor chips for Bluetooth connectivity, noise cancellation, and audio processing, delivering immersive audio experiences. Similarly, wearable devices, including smartwatches and fitness trackers, rely on semiconductor solutions for sensors, data processing, and connectivity, enabling seamless health and activity tracking.

Career Opportunities in Semiconductor Technology:
As the semiconductor industry evolves in response to these mega trends, it creates exciting career opportunities for professionals across the value chain – designing, fabrication and packaging. From semiconductor design and manufacturing to research and development, there is a growing demand for skilled professionals who can innovate and drive technological advancements in the industry. The sector is expected to see more than 800,000 to 1 million job openings over the next five years, says staffing company Randstad. The government recently approved $15 billion worth of investments into the sector including from the Tata group. India’s burgeoning semiconductor sector is facing a surge in demand for talent, fuelled by new investments and the government’s ambitious plan to transform the country into a chip manufacturing hub.
Semiconductor Design Engineer: Semiconductor design engineers play a crucial role in developing the architecture and circuitry of semiconductor chips. They utilize tools like Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software and simulation tools to design and optimize chip layouts for performance, power efficiency, and manufacturability.
Process Engineer: Process engineers are responsible for developing and optimizing semiconductor manufacturing processes. They work closely with equipment vendors and manufacturing teams to ensure the smooth operation of semiconductor fabrication facilities, improve yield rates, and reduce production costs.
Research Scientist: Research scientists in the semiconductor industry focus on exploring new materials, devices, and technologies to push the boundaries of semiconductor innovation. They conduct experiments, analyse data, and collaborate with cross-functional teams to develop next-generation semiconductor solutions.
Material Engineers – Material engineers in the semiconductor industry are pivotal in researching, selecting, and optimizing the materials used in semiconductor device fabrication. Their expertise spans a wide range of materials, including silicon, gallium arsenide, and various compound semiconductors. Material engineers work closely with semiconductor design teams to ensure that the chosen materials meet the performance requirements of the intended applications while also considering factors such as cost, scalability, and reliability.
Product Marketing Manager: Product marketing managers play a vital role in bringing semiconductor products to market. They conduct market research, develop marketing strategies, and collaborate with sales teams to promote semiconductor products and drive revenue growth.
.Quality Assurance Engineer: Quality assurance engineers ensure that semiconductor products meet the highest standards of quality and reliability. They develop and implement test plans, conduct performance testing, and analyse data to identify and address any issues or defects in semiconductor products.
Packaging experts: Packaging experts in the semiconductor industry are instrumental in developing and implementing packaging solutions that safeguard semiconductor chips. Their role entails meticulous selection of packaging materials, designing efficient packaging structures to ensure protection against environmental factors and mechanical stresses, and optimizing designs for thermal management and electrical performance. They collaborate closely with design and manufacturing teams to ensure that packaging solutions meet stringent industry standards while balancing factors such as cost-effectiveness and manufacturability.
Machine maintenance technicians -Machine maintenance technicians also play a crucial role in implementing preventive maintenance schedules, identifying opportunities for equipment upgrades or optimizations, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations and operational standards. Their expertise contributes to the overall efficiency and longevity of semiconductor manufacturing operations.
Safety protocol checkers – These people are integral to maintaining a safe and secure work environment within semiconductor manufacturing facilities. They are responsible for enforcing safety regulations, conducting regular inspections to identify potential hazards, and implementing corrective measures to mitigate risks and prevent accidents. Safety protocol checkers also play a vital role in developing and implementing safety training programs, conducting safety audits, and promoting a culture of safety awareness among employees. Their diligence and vigilance help to safeguard the well-being of personnel, protect semiconductor manufacturing equipment, and maintain the integrity of semiconductor processes.
Qualifications: National Occupational Standards by ESSCI
As the field becomes more specialized, advanced degrees or skill training provide a competitive edge. Specialized qualifications like IC Package, VLSI Design, and Package Design enhance a designer’s expertise. As on date ESSCI has developed 25 NSQF aligned and approved qualifications on semiconductors (Design, Packaging & Manufacturing segment) and is also planning to develop more qualifications as per the need & demand of the industry especially on the Clean Room, Machine Maintenance and other related fragments, which are the need of the hour.
Short Term Qualifications & Upskilling NOS’s
ESSCI offers focused a range of qualifications covering the complete value chain of the semiconductor industry. Short Term courses such as VLSI Design Engineer, concentrating on designing SOC-module functions using software, Embedded Full Stack Engineer, IoT Hardware Analyst are some of the top courses offered for pursuing engineering graduates to gain the knowledge of EDA Tools and system design. ESSCI also provides qualifications for Wafer Back Grinding Engineer and Wafer Dicing Engineer, specialising in wafer manufacturing tasks which can be taught to ITI / Diploma students.
ESSCI also has foundation / upskilling courses in the field of Nano Science & Advance Nano Science which is also in great demand. Also, there are some basic courses on the Industrial Safety – Electrical & Hazchem which are very crucial & important for the industrial safety requirements. The complete list of our qualifications along with their model curriculum are all uploaded on our website -https://essc-india.org/qualification-packs.phpIn conclusion, the semiconductor mega trends present unprecedented opportunities for India to assert its leadership in the global semiconductor industry. Through strategic investments, policy support, and talent development initiatives, India is poised to capitalize on these trends, driving innovation, fostering entrepreneurship, and creating a thriving semiconductor ecosystem for generations to come.
(The writer is Chief Operating Officer Electronics Sector Skills Council of India).

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