From tablets and phones to household appliances and smart machines, several electronic devices operate with semiconductor-based chips at their core. And so, when the semiconductor shortage hit the entire tech and engineering industry post-COVID, it devastated the whole supply chain for these products: companies that manufacture chips and those that use them took major hits in product development.
Now, there’s an active movement to scale up chip manufacturing across the world, with the US leading the charge. In the coming months, the demand for talent in this industry will reach new highs, leaving companies to expend many resources in outbidding other companies for a top-tier workforce. Thus, there will also be a demand for HR professionals who can find and keep the right talent.
The Semiconductor Shortage
The semiconductor shortage was sparked mainly by the COVID-19 pandemic, with several dispersed but connected incidents happening simultaneously. The lockdowns led to an inability for chip manufacturing plants to function at full capacity due to a staff shortage. At the same time, demand for chip-based devices and electronic gadgets shot up worldwide, leading to more requests from manufacturers to chipmaking firms.
All of these happened while the global semiconductor supply chain was disrupted by bans on international movement, meaning that raw materials could only move slowly to their next destination. And to top it all off, there was a major monopoly in the industry: a CyberGhost article on PCs reported that more than half of semiconductor demand was directed to TSMC — including demand from large companies like Apple and Intel. The high demand has caused major price increases in semiconductors and scalping, which has affected many industries that rely on this scarce commodity to produce.
The Need for Talent
Recently, the industry has been learning from these occurrences and charting a new direction. In the US, President Joe Biden is leading efforts to expand home-based semiconductor manufacturing with the CHIPS Act, commissioning a $39 billion fund to erect facilities for chipmaking. Several US companies are already on board with the movement, which could significantly reduce supply chain costs.
Of course, with this will come an explosive demand for talent in the high-tech field. Given that arstechnica reports that the US is already experiencing a labor shortage in the chip manufacturing facilities on its home turf, it’s clear that the plan to expand these facilities depends on finding and training the right people. As companies emerge, they will also be on the lookout for highly skilled HR managers who can convey their mission to professionals and bring such people on board.
Diversifying the Industry
There’s a heavy emphasis on workforce values and benefits in the CHIPS Act, such as childcare provisions for employees. But one that also stands out is the need for increased diversity in the industry — and no party plays a more important role here than HR managers.
As the industry scales up, HR professionals will be tasked with developing company policies to promote employee inclusion, allow for diverse perspectives in problem-solving, and ensure wide representation in terms of the background while still getting every member of the workforce to do their job at the highest level.
The HR personnel who can achieve these would build the most attractive companies, thus boosting their market presence and output.