Chip design firms battle talent crunch in India

Tags: chip, India, News
Shortage of trained talent, a problem that plagues India’s IT sector, has now spread to the country’s fast growing chip design industry.

According to a report by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), India’s chip design sector is growing at a rate of 20 per cent annually. While there has been a significant increase in global and domestic companies working in the chip design space, this has not been matched by an increase in a design-aware talent pool. There is a shortage of engineers possessing the right skills as global companies move design jobs to India and Indian firms expand their offerings.

Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA agrees, “We need to see more PhDs and research and development focus in universities which will help development of IP and products from India. We need to have more universities with a focus on hardware design and manufacturing as also ITIs and polytechnics focusing on high tech manufacturing.”

Over the years, India has evolved into a major player in the global chip design industry. With demonstrated experience in verification, cutting edge digital, analog and mixed signal design, India’s fast growing VLSI and embedded software industry allows companies to efficiently engage in hardware software co-development and verification.

Most design firms find a significant gap between the curriculum followed by engineering schools in India and industry needs. Says Ganesh Guruswamy, vice-president and country manager, Freescale Semiconductor, “As we move up the design value chain, the engineering talent that companies hire from colleges needs to be trained and made more industry-aware. Many of the engineering colleges are not equipped with the latest toolkits and technologies that are presently used by the industry. This calls for an industry-academia interface.” Freescale collaborates with universities such as the Indian Institute of Science — Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Technology — Bombay among others.

Cadence runs a finishing school programme to provide hands-on experience to graduates. Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate vice-president and managing director, Cadence Design Systems explains, “The demand for talent has gone up in the chip design industry. Given the nature of work, expectations have also risen. Cost arbitrage is still important though lower cost geographies are emerging. Indian design teams have to distinguish themselves in terms of quality. We need to focus on quality at the entry level. Industry needs to work at the university level, training university faculty, revamping course ware, and bring in industry experts to speak to students.”

IC design, application engineering, product and test engineering, systems design and embedded software development. Positions range from a technical individual-contributor role, a technical-lead position to an engineering-management role. While IC design and embedded software skills are available, application engineering as well as product and test engineering are emerging areas.

Entry level salaries range between Rs 350,000 to 400,000 per annum.

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