Vietnam Faces Manpower Shortage in Expanding Semiconductor Industry

Vietnam: As the semiconductor industry emerges as a potential driver for Vietnam's rapid and sustainable economic development, a critical shortage of skilled manpower poses a significant challenge. This industry, crucial for manufacturing electronic products, is experiencing one of the fastest growth rates globally.

According to Vietnam News Agency, SEMI SEA, a Southeast Asian association serving microelectronic, display, and photovoltaic industry supply chains, reported that the global semiconductor industry generated revenue of nearly 600 billion USD in 2022. It's forecasted to continue its double-digit growth, reaching 1 trillion USD by 2030. SEMI SEA President Linda Tan noted that Vietnam's market is expected to grow by 6.12% from 2022 to 2027, positioning the country as a key partner in the semiconductor field with increased investment.

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung stated that Vietnam annually requires around 150,000 engineers for its information technology and digital sectors. However, only 40 - 50% of this demand is currently met. Specifically, in the semiconductor industry, less than 20% of the annual need for 5,000 - 10,000 engineers is fulfilled.

This significant manpower gap, over 80%, becomes more critical as over 50 foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses invested in this sector in Vietnam require a large number of skilled personnel. Experts estimate that the industry will need about 20,000 personnel with bachelor's or higher degrees in the next five years and approximately 50,000 engineers in the next decade.

Assoc. Prof. and Dr. Hoang Minh Son, Deputy Minister of Education and Training, acknowledged that despite the semiconductor field not being new in academic training, the number of students and graduates is insufficient, leading to a quantitative and qualitative manpower shortage. In response, the Ministry of Education and Training is formulating an action plan to enhance the quantity and quality of human resources, especially in integrated circuit (IC) design.

Currently, Vietnam has over 5,570 IC engineers, with the majority based in Ho Chi Minh City. Annually, only about 500 - 600 students graduate from domestic universities' semiconductor training courses. To address the shortage, Son suggested training students from closely related fields like electronics, electrical, automation, and mechatronics engineering into semiconductor specialists. This approach could increase graduates in this field to 3,000 - 4,000 annually.

Moreover, many electronics and telecommunications graduates have experience in IC and semiconductor-related companies. Additional specialized training could transform them into high-quality resources for the industry. Additionally, re-training engineers from related fields could quickly increase new semiconductor personnel to 5,000 - 6,000 each year.

In mid-October, key Vietnamese universities and institutes signed a cooperation agreement to develop high-quality human resources for the semiconductor industry. This agreement lays the foundation for increased collaboration in scientific research, technology transfer, innovation, and engagement with semiconductor companies.

Assoc. Prof. and Dr. Tran Le Quan, Rector of the VNUHCM University of Science, emphasized the importance of creating training and internship programs in IC, micro-electromechanical systems engineering, and electronics engineering. These programs would involve collaboration between universities and semiconductor firms to meet research and development needs.

Vietnam is currently drafting a strategy for semiconductor industry development up to 2030, with a vision extending to 2035. Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Huy Dung expressed optimism that Vietnam could integrate more deeply into global semiconductor supply chains through national strategies and trust-building in international cooperation, attracting investment.

Dung highlighted the need for collective action from the government, associations, organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, both domestic and international. He hopes that with coordinated efforts, the manpower shortage can be addressed, enabling the semiconductor industry to thrive and contribute significantly to Vietnam's economy in the near future.