One of the most important drivers of the world economy, the semiconductor industry is also among the most complex in terms of manufacturing. While this sector has long been dominated by the West, businesses in Asia-Pacific are rapidly building their production capability – with fascinating economic consequences.
Currently, only one company in the world (ASML) is able to produce large quantities of lithography machines, which are used in the manufacturing of semiconductors. Several manufacturers in the Asia-Pacific region are closely linked with ASML, however, giving them special access to these machines.
Prospects and challenges for manufacturing in Asia
Asia-Pacific is home to many companies that produce components for computers, control systems, telecommunications equipment, automotive vehicles, and various consumer products. These businesses also work on semiconductor research, development, design, sales, and service.
In 2020, the US considered implementing a new trade policythat wouldmake it more difficult for some companies in Asia to buy semiconductors.Companies abroad have thus recognised the need to secure their own resourcesand reserves, as the demand for semiconductors rises.
Moreover, with COVID-19 disrupting the international semiconductor supply chain, several countries including China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea have had difficulty maintaining a continuous supply of semiconductors. The governments of these ‘Big 4’ countries have recently led the way toward increased investment and spending in the semiconductor industry, hoping to create jobs while moving toward greater economic independence.
The governments of these countries have already helped bring in funds for increased industry development, including skilled labour, with the aim of increasing their high-end manufacturing capacity. With the likely demand for these technologies remaining high, the need for skilled labour in this area will only grow over time.
China’s growing presence
China will play a significant role in both Asia-Pacific and the global market, as the domestic demand for semiconductors continues to increase. China’s labour capacity and network of key suppliers will make it one of the continent’s semiconductor hubs, with increased investment in equipment and a growing labour pool of skilled industrial workers.
China’s development of advanced 5G telecommunications, including 5G-enabled smartphones, indicates that its own domestic semiconductor industry will have a strong market moving forward.
Continued demand for talent in Singapore
Singapore’s semiconductor industry has likewise been growing strong, and is expected to flourish in the years to come. In just the first nine months of 2020, the country’selectronics industry received over S$5.7 billion in investmentwhile alsospending S$376 million. Singapore’s Trade & Industry minister Chan ChunSing stated
Mr Chan also said that between April and October of last year, over 2,800 new jobs, attachments, and training opportunities were created in electronics companies, with a majority of the new jobs reserved for highly qualified employees at a senior level.
Mr Chan added that the value of the semiconductor industry in relationship to Singapore’s overall GDP increased from 1% in 1990 to 6.9% in 2019. This industry actually increased its output by 1.7% during the first half of 2020, even as most other sectors declined amid the pandemic.
Staffing this growing industry
Asia’s semiconductor activity involves many countries, with each playing a vital role. Governments are already supporting businesses in this area, while helping them secure research and development funding to boost progress. As the electronics industry continues to lead the Asia-Pacific economy forward, employment opportunities are likely to increase.
Drawing from our extensive experience in this area, Connexus locates talent across Asia-Pacific for various industries along the global value chain. We can fulfil recruitment requirements in a number of technical areas, usually in a matter of days. For more on how we can help with your semiconductor goals, contact us today.