Foxconn and the Taiwanese government are exploring a partnership that would allow the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics to rapidly upgrade the skills of Indians to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry
Foxconn and the Taiwanese government are exploring a partnership that would allow the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics to rapidly upgrade the skills of Indians to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry.
The plan is to use Taiwan Education Centres (TEC) across India to train local technology professionals with Foxconn’s proprietary technical material and Mandarin language provided by the TECs, according to people with knowledge of the matter. This mix of technical and linguistic skills would help bridge divides between Indian and Taiwanese companies and talent.
A concerted effort by the Taiwanese government and private sector to train Indian technical talent for the semiconductor industry could allow India to become a significant player in the world’s evolving chip wars.
Both parties also hope to discuss the matter with the Indian government, although official consultations have not begun, the people cited above said, requesting anonymity.
Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, the largest supplier of iPhones and iPads for Apple, is betting big on the semiconductor market in India, having announced a ₹1.54 trillion investment plan with mining company Vedanta through a 40:60 joint venture for building a display fabrication unit, an integrated semiconductor fabrication unit and an outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) facility, in Gujarat.
The venture also plans to make use of the ₹76,000 crore financial incentive scheme set up by the government to encourage semiconductor manufacturing. Mint reported on 12 January that the proposal by Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture in Gujarat was likely to be the first one to get the government’s stamp of approval.
Against the backdrop of major investments planned for the Indian market, the plan for a skilling venture between the Taiwanese government and Foxconn assumes significance, given the talent crunch that plagues the semiconductor industry worldwide. For instance, the US needs 70,000 skilled professionals for manufacturing critical high-tech semiconductors, according to Accenture. In China, too, which intends to give sops of $143 billion for ensuring self-reliance in semiconductors, 350,000 to 400,000 skilled professionals are needed.
Given the rapid growth of the semiconductor industry globally and the growing lack of skilled talent, such a plan would allow India to nurture a globally competitive pool of talent while also offering Foxconn a ready base of talent to dip into for fulfilling its own requirements.
Taiwan’s government has sponsored the development of TECs to offer Indians Mandarin language training. These institutes are managed by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Centre (TECC), which functions as the island nation’s embassy in New Delhi. There are currently 18 TECs in the country, funded by Taiwan’s education ministry.
Queries sent to the Taiwan Education Centre at the National Tsing Hua University and Foxconn remained unanswered till press time.
India is also recalibrating its education policies to incorporate training and certification courses for creating a workforce that will be usable by the semiconductor industry. Minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is also the minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship, said in an interview last month that the government had created a comprehensive framework of courses, degrees, doctorates, post-doctorate, certification programmes, in partnership with the industry, which was being implemented by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the other departments. The framework or blueprint had been created by a committee headed by AMD country head Jaya Jagadish, would ensure that the workforce would be employable by the industry.
“We have something called Future Labs, which is where we do incubation and rebuilding of new technologies for the future; future skills in terms of skills that our digital economy requires today and tomorrow, and then future design, which is basically to do with what will be the innovation and design across the technology space; so that by academic year 2023-24, the higher education system will start delivering on the talent required for semiconductors. They will get on-the-job training and skilling, for instance, by spending three weeks in a fab in Singapore,” he had said.