Semiconductor Workforce Development – What India needs to do…

Semiconductor Manufacturing…much more than design!


Semiconductor Workforce Development – What India needs to do!


Enabling India’s semiconductor program has been a personal vision and I have the privilege of contributing to it as a subject-matter-expert (SME) across different industry and government bodies. My role as a board member at Electronics Sector Skill Council of India and a SME for semiconductor skills at ESSCI brings out the sheer opportunity for India in creating its semiconductor workforce – for serving Indian and Global industry.

India Semiconductor Mission was announced in December 2021 and an advisory body was constituted with eminent global experts to guide its leaders thru the journey to creating an Indian semiconductor ecosystem.

Dr Ajit Manocha, President of SEMI -the global Semiconductor Manufacturing industries association was invited into the advisory council by MEITY leadership. Ajit ji is on the Silicon Valley Hall of Fame (same as Gordon Moore and other industry luminaries – plus, he is on the VLSI hall of fame (uniquely positioned as the only person I know who is on both halls of fame)!

Dr Ajit Manocha took his role with serious commit and asked Dr Rajendra Singh IIT Delhi and me to organize an industry brainstorming session at IIT Delhi to deliberate on a key enabler of the Indian semiconductor aspiration -its semiconductor workforce.

Accordingly, we hosted a brainstorming workshop in April 22 with global leaders like Prof Rao Tummala Rao (packaging guru) ; Dr G Rajeswaran ( Display Fellow @SID & more…) – and an eclectic group of academic, industry leaders from local and global ecosystem.

The workshop deep dived into each section of the semiconductor industry supply-chain – from design to die-making (fab) to device (ATMP) …and materials/equipment/services!

The group defined the quantitative outcomes and the moon-shot, aspirational goals that could be looked at for the sectors. And it built a fish-bone framework for enabling those goals – covering the target markets, the MOUs (Partnerships), the Men (People), the Method (Process), the Machine(ry) and the Money to enable the goals.

Several common themes emerged – including the need for a talent pipeline management system that aligned industry needs to training system output!

I am sharing the notes from the meeting here in following information packs.

1. High level Management overview Deck of April 25 workshop

                                           Jul22 MEITY Brainstorming AMAT-IITD-SEMI-ESSCI
2. Minutes .doc file and Final Goals Fishbone Deck

                                            IIT D Summary May 3

                                            Enabling Semiconductor Ecosystem Goal Fishbones_edited v3

Please feel free to access the content and share your comments back to build on these enablers.

Over the last several that I have tracked the semiconductor aspiration and ecosystem enablers in India, I find that several myths confound the execution and need to be appropriately addressed.

First, it is a myth that creating a strong design skilled force will create the Indian semiconductor ecosystem. Some vested interests believe that design is the only thing India needs to do and should not bother about its manufacturing!

Nothing can be further than the truth. The complete semiconductor ecosystem definitely has design as one of the key inputs but its most vibrant, industry enabler piece is the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem. India has some design capability driven mostly by the global MNC delivery centers in India – it has very little semiconductor manufacturing skill capacity in India.

It is not to say that we should not create the semiconductor design workforce capacity. That should also be a national objective and it is also a major task as the academia need to provide the training on the industry accepted EDA tools – and the startup/emerging Indian players need access to the advanced PDKs and EDA tool commercial licenses.

Semiconductor manufacturing Industry is served by almost all the engineering streams – from electronics, to electrical, chemical, materials, mechanical, robotics, computer-sciences, embedded, VLSI design and pure sciences (physics, chemistry). If I include the emerging application markets – the requirement would flow into every industry as this is now a meta-industry fundamental for every industry (imagine biotech, pharma, life-sciences…mobility…and more)!

ESSCI leadership is looking at evolving a skill program framework that

  • Starts with the foundation engineering streams and looks at adding an honors level that covers some of the specific skills required for semiconductor and high value/volume manufacturing
  • And build add-on stack of skill programs (under the National Occupation Standards with appropriate qualification packs) that add specific competences to the individual (these can be relating to dicing of wafers; handing litho tools; conventional packaging ; plasma engineering etc.).
  • With focus on both theoretical knowledge AND hands-on skills.
  • Clubbed with MOUs with SEMI and Indian centers of excellence
  • To create a global skill brand that can enable our workforce for positions in India as well as global markets.

It is a myth that there is no capability to provide hands-on competence in the country. SCL, select IITs have been working under MEITY’s INUP (Indian Nano-User Program) to create that capacity.

The challenge now is to coherently integrate it and execute it – but I am sure this ship will sail…
Fair winds and Following Seas!

(Do leave your comments, suggestions on how you would like to see this program shape out in the comments box…and let us continue the discussion in future posts).