Taiwan’s top two chipmakers plan to hire more than 10,000 engineers this year to bolster their aggressive expansion plans and maintain their technological edge as global economies push to cultivate their own domestic industries.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co is looking to hire about 8,000 engineers in 2022, a similar level to last year, sources familiar with the matter said. The world’s largest contract chipmaker is in the midst of its largest expansion, with facilities being built and scaled up in Taiwan, the US, Japan and China.
TSMC announced on Thursday it planned to spend up to $44bn this year in expanding production capacity to alleviate an unprecedented global chip shortage and capture growing demand for chips used in artificial intelligence and 5G-powered applications. TSMC told Nikkei Asia it had not yet finalised its recruitment plans for this year, but said its recruitment goal last year was about 8,000 hires. It already has more than 60,000 employees globally.
Meanwhile, MediaTek, the world’s top mobile chip developer by shipments, said it would take on more than 2,000 people this year. The company, which recently surpassed US mobile chipmaker Qualcomm in the premium 5G market, hired more than 2,000 engineers last year, bringing its total workforce to about 19,300 employees.
MediaTek is hiring mostly in Taiwan, though it will aim to add a substantial number of employees in India, where the chip developer has a 1,000-strong research and development team and has already found “great semiconductor talent”, the company said. MediaTek said it spent about NT$100bn ($3.6bn) on R&D in 2021 and the budget this year would grow between 10 and 20 per cent. In 2020, its R&D budget stood at NT$77.3bn.
This article is from Nikkei Asia, a global publication with a uniquely Asian perspective on politics, the economy, business and international affairs. Our own correspondents and outside commentators from around the world share their views on Asia, while our Asia300 section provides in-depth coverage of 300 of the biggest and fastest-growing listed companies from 11 economies outside Japan.
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Taiwan boasts the world’s second-largest semiconductor economy by revenue after the US, and over several decades it has built up a complete and mature chip cluster on its western coast. The largest European chip equipment maker, ASML, plans to hire some 1,000 people in Taiwan this year, after it hired 1,400 last year, heading for a team of 3,800 employees on the island. Leading chip material makers Merck and Entegris are building new production facilities in Taiwan and also plan to hire more people locally this year.
The moves by TSMC and MediaTek come as the yearlong global chip crunch has highlighted the strategic importance of the democratically ruled island and its crown-jewel chip industry. The chip shortages have hit a wide range of industries, from smartphones, PCs and servers to automobiles and military equipment.
The top carmaking economies of the US, Germany and Japan have all asked the Taiwanese government to encourage local chipmakers to prioritise automotive chips. To boost supply-chain security, governments have also introduced massive subsidy plans to bring semiconductor production onshore.
To protect Taiwan’s position in the chip supply chain, and address concerns of a talent crunch, the island recently opened four new semiconductor graduate schools at its top four universities. The government plans to invest NT$300m in the next decade to ensure a steady stream of R&D talent supporting growth in the local chip industry.
A version of this article was first published by Nikkei Asia on January 14 2022. ©2022 Nikkei Inc. All rights reserved