Chinese chip industry is growing domestically
Following US attempts to strangle China’s access to state-of-the-art computer chip technology, China has had to increase its drive to create its own domestic chip industry. For this, it has needed to attract brand-new talent capable of meeting the task. The country now has limited contact with those that would have originally advised the Chinese chip industry.
US plans are even more extensive in the future. They are planning to effectively cut China out of the global chip supply chains if possible. The US is chiefly concerned with China utilising such technology for military purposes. Nonetheless, this has further incentivised China to invest at home.
The shortage of workers is considerable for the Chinese chip industry. Just this year, they are around 200,000 workers short. This is according to a white paper from a government think tank (the China Center for Information Industry Development) and a trade group (the China Semiconductor Industry Association).
Their main drive has been to increase funds for education to grow their talent pool. Applications to university courses, both undergraduate and post-graduate, have sky-rocketed. Small short-term private schools have also seen an increase in enrolment. The industry is growing so rapidly that it has attracted those originally educated in other subjects.
Shortages for the Chinese chip industry in schooling
Unfortunately, despite the evident growing interest in the industry, China’s educational system is not ready for it. There have been consistent reports from specialists as well as students that the educational material is not advanced enough. This is in comparison to some of the schools, such as those in the US and Taiwan. Additionally, an internship is an essential part of the technology industry. This is why it is worrying that over 60% of Chinese chip engineering students graduate without one. This was according to a survey from ICwise in 2022.
One of the main issues is with the incentive system that the Chinese universities have put in place. They have had a greater focus on rewarding publishing papers than keeping up with the newest methodologies. In a practical field, such a focus is unnecessary. For chip manufacturers or a computer lab, the methodology is more useful.
Short-term bootcamps are popping up in place to fill in some of the demand. These schools focus on quick results, training those with knowledge in related subjects and bringing them up to speed. One student graduating in materials science, Abner Zheng, had signed up for such courses. He now works at a company that makes image-processing chips.