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The emerging Indian semicon talent search and the need to ramp up!
Poornima Shenoy
Saturday, July 1, 2006
The past decade has witnessed a rapid growth in the Indian semiconductor industry, which was once overshadowed by the IT/ITeS boom. This dynamic industry has risen out of the generic IT umbrella, to carve a distinct niche for itself in the world of technological innovation.

The Indian semiconductor and embedded design industry has revenues to the tune of $3.3 billion (2005) and employs nearly 75,000 people. This is expected to increase to revenues of $43 billion in 2015 with employment projections of over 780,000 in 2015.
Captive companies have scaled up from merely being low-cost skilled resource centers to those carrying out end-to-end activities. Another promising statistic is that design starts in India are set to rise from 600 in 2005 to 3248 in 2015!

The driving forces behind this growth is the rapidly growing domestic market, a strong education infrastructure, comparatively lower cost design talent, short product lead times, reduced entry barriers, rising government support, and improving infrastructure.
One challenge that could confront companies seeking to expand semiconductor design activities in India is the supply and demand gap for competent professionals. The pressures placed on companies to emerge successfully from a skills shortage is high at present and will only increase with time.

The challenge could reduce in the coming few years through government initiatives, better collaboration between industry and academia, higher participation of experienced professionals in training activities and greater flexibility in recruitment policies of companies.

A structured plan to pro-actively address the workforce shortage at the campus stage itself could be achieved through a combination of the following factors:

Awareness: Students and placement officers at universities need greater awareness about the sector, its companies, compensation and benefits, career options and growth.

Curriculum update: Industry support to update and introduce classroom curriculum could help build knowledge for entry into the industry and to make the semicon industry a viable option.

Centers of excellence and JVs: Joint initiatives between industry and universities to establish centers of excellence and competency for R&D in VLSI engineering, design automation and embedded system engineering, thereby leading to creation of IP and raising familiarity amongst academia.

Faculty sabbaticals: Short-term projects with training and updating of technology awareness for faculty members could enable specialization amongst the academia.

Government: Grants and scholarships to encourage doctoral and post doctoral research in premier institutions with appropriate financial and infrastructure support. Support to faculty and researchers to present papers globally and file for patents will be beneficial in the short and the long term.
Industrial training: Project assignments to engineering students for familiarization with the latest technology will provide students with hands-on training.

Short term courses: Specialized and advanced short term programs and courses in VLSI design and embedded software, run by educational institutions, will enable interested engineers to undergo appropriate training to enter the industry. It will also create a larger talent pool that will be available to industry for quality and quantity of selection.

Subsidies: EDA tools offered by various players should subsidized.

Training: Faculty and student training on the latest EDA tools will provide exposure at college/university level.

If we want to be part of a vibrant and innovation driven semiconductor industry, it is imperative that education and quality manpower should be enablers and not a restraint. Strengthening this link will ensure that the future of the industry is set to go places!

Poornima Shenoy is the President of India Semiconductor Association

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