Newswise — All is well in the Asia-Pacific tech job market—if you’re an electronics engineer, computer or software engineer, computer scientist, or IT professional—at least in most of the larger countries. Software skills dominate job listings for technical professionals throughout the region with titles that suggest a narrowing of skill set requirements.
Some of the hiring highlights across the region include:
• General Electric has more than 200 openings for engineers, mostly in Beijing and Shanghai (design, systems, and software engineers top the list).
• Freescale Semiconductor plans to open 10 new sales offices in China, to be staffed with experienced sales and technical teams. Freescale currently employs about 4000 in China, mainly in a package testing facility in Tianjin and five R&D centers.
• Rockwell Collins and Beijing Bluesky Aviation Technology, an AVIV subsidiary, have formed a joint venture to design, manufacturer, and market commercial aviation flight simulators. Specific hiring plans have not been disclosed, but the joint venture expects to begin operation by the end of 2013.
• Huawei Technologies, one of China’s leading information and communications technology providers, says it plans to strengthen its role in the Asia-Pacific enterprise ICT market with the addition of several engineers in Bangalore and Pune, India.
• Bosch says its need for qualified specialists is especially high in Asia. Bosch plans to hire about 300 graduates from its apprentice program for positions in China and India, and has set up occupation training centers in Vietnam and Thailand to meet its requirements in those areas.
• Baidu, the leading Chinese language Internet search provider, recently reported spending US $130.5 million for R&D in the first quarter ended 31 March, most of which Baidu says went to the expansion of its R&D staff. That’s an 82.9 percent increase in its investment in R&D overall over the same period in 2012.
INFOSYS HIRING, BUT…
In India, the big engineering career story this year is at Infosys Ltd., the country’s second largest software services company. The Hindu Business Line, a major daily newspaper in India, reported in early January that Infosys was planning to lay off nearly 5000 employees to better manage its costs. “This is wrong,” said Priyanka Waghre, an Infosys corporate marketing executive. “There is no layoff. Infosys … encourages chronic under-performers to seek other jobs. This is done regularly,” Waghre said, “and is not a one-time event.” Waghre said the number affected is “significantly lower than the 5000 quoted in the article. For a performance-driven company with more than 150 000 employees, this is part of the normal ebb and flow of running a business.”
Waghre said Infosys continues to hire in line with its business requirements, and has extended 5000 offers on engineering campuses this year. Infosys typically hires 70 percent of its technical staff from colleges and the rest are experienced professionals. ” Waghre also said that skill set requirements continue to change at Infosys. “With so many engineers being produced each year, we will need to look at re-skilling some of our talent, introduce new courses and broaden existing academic disciplines to ensure that the talent we are grooming today in our universities can meet the needs of the dynamically changing industry.”
Mahindra Satyam, another IT firm in India, says it may boost employment at its operation in Australia over the next two years—from its current level of 1600 to 5000. Mahindra Satyam is already hiring recent graduates from Australian universities and experienced IT specialists from across the country. The company says it also expects to recruit some IT professionals from India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. (Australia has about 40 openings for mainly product development and design engineers, most of them in Perth.)
Computer Simulation Technology AG’s (CST) products have been available in India for more than a decade through its distributors, Step Electronics Pvt. Ltd. and Jyoti Electronics, and CST says it plans to continue to work with these organizations. But the Darmstadt, Germany-based company recently formed Computer Simulation Technology India Private Limited to further expand its business in the region. “We will grow the staff (in India) over time,” said Martin Timm, CST’s marketing director. Timm says initial hires in India are most likely to be specialists in electromagnetic simulation software and applications engineering.
Analysis by the National Skill Development Corp. (NSDC) on India’s human resource and skill requirements in electronics and IT suggests this sector has the potential to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 17 percent into 2022, even though the country’s GDP is expected to grow only at a rate of about 8 percent over the same period. The NSDC says this translates to overall employment in IT increasing from about 1.4 million in 2012 to about 4.1 million in 2022. India is also making rapid progress in growing its entrepreneurial activities, mainly in Bangalore, Pune, and Hyderabad, with expectations of hatching up to 1000 telecommunication product start-ups over the next 10 years. India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) is much more ambitious, saying that it hopes to help generate 10 000 start-ups in the country over the next 10 years.
Another likely opportunity for jobs will come out of India’s massive smart grid plans. The India Smart Grid Forum, a public-private initiative of the government’s Ministry of Power, has already put out a call for engineering job applicants to help the Indian power sector develop and deploy advanced communication and transmission/distribution systems across the country.
EE EDUCATION GETTING A BOOST
One big concern across the region is getting and keeping Asia Pacific engineers up to speed on technology. United Kingdom-based LDRA, a provider of automated software verification, source code analysis, and test tools, has been providing education and other support services in Bangalore through LDRA India for several years. LDRA India now plans to open offices in Delhi and Hyderabad to help boost software development and test expertise in those areas. “An increased focus on certification is driving software modernization in India,” says Shinto Joseph, operations and sales director of LDRA India. “Local industries are increasingly expected to fulfill certification requirements.”
Another U.K.-based firm, Sondrel, which employs large design teams for its system-to-silicon IC consultancy in Shanghai and Xi’an, has formed a partnership with the University of Nottingham to develop new IC design talent in China. The program will provide students based at the university’s Ningbo China (UNNC) campus with three months’ intensive training covering the latest IC design methodologies and practices. As Sondrel CEO Graham Curren explains it, “One of our business models is to provide experienced engineering teams close to where the customer is located. However, because we are growing so quickly and the demand from other companies is so great, we have been unable to find enough suitably-qualified personnel in China.” The program is open to third-year UNNC students and recent graduates. Students who successfully complete the training will be offered a four-month internship at Sondrel.
Mentor Graphics Corp. also is collaborating with UNNC with the opening of a new Mentor-sponsored electronics design laboratory at the university in Zejiang province. Mentor has donated more than US $10 million in EDA software and support to ensure that UNNC students graduate with a better understanding of current design tools and methodologies. “Highly talented electronics engineers are in great demand worldwide, particularly in fast-growing China,” says Danny Perng, vice president, PacRim, Mentor Graphics. “Our collaboration with Nottingham will help ensure that engineering students at the university are well-prepared for their careers in IC design.”
SINGAPORE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Dell, Intel, and Revolution Analytics have joined forces to form the Big Data Innovation Center in Singapore to provide extensive training, proof-of-concept capabilities, and development support across the Asian market.
Digital and analog IC design engineers, who already account for 44 percent of the pool of 1100 IC designers in the area, are still in high demand in Singapore. Recruiting is aggressive, with a series of trade shows scheduled throughout the year to attract technical talent, like the Electronics Virtual Career Fair in August 2013, [email protected]: Electronics in September 2013, and the IEEE Asian Solid-State Circuits Conference in November 2013. The quasi-governmental Contact Singapore jobs board recently listed more than 100 engineering jobs in the Singapore. Potential employers included Micron, Qualcomm, Global Foundries (which announced plans to expand its Singapore-based 300mm manufacturing facility in 2012), Marvell, Panasonic Industrial Devices Semiconductor Asia, and Infineon.
At least 85 jobs are listed for information technology jobs in Singapore and another 75 for engineering services slots. Several recruiting events for Singapore-located engineering positions have also been scheduled in London, Bristol, and Milan in September, October, and November 2013.
Cambridge, U.K.-based Cambridge Consultants, which designs products for other companies, has opened an office in Singapore as part of an international expansion program. Cambridge Consultants says it plans to double its 380 global workforce over the next four years. CEO Alan Richardson says, “We feel the climate is ripe to accelerate the growth of our business and that includes exploring high growth markets such as Asia.” The firm has clients in Australia and Japan, as well as Singapore. However, Cambridge Consultants says it’s not ready to talk about specific hiring plans for its Singapore office.
Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd plans to hire 130 tech professionals in the next few years, according to David Ong, the operation’s senior director, communications. (Infineon announced in June 2011 that it would invest about US $350 million in its Singapore facility over the next five years.) “We are looking for competencies in chip development of deep submicron system-on-chip and in multicore architecture development, as well as mixed signal design expertise in the area of power integrated circuits,” says Ong. He also said that Infineon plans to make its Singapore site the global testing hub for packaged ICs. “This plan is already underway. The emphasis is on productivity gain through optimization in materials, test methodologies, and factory automation.”
United Microelectronics Corp., Taiwan’s second largest contract chipmaker, says it plans to add more than 80 engineers to the 1600 that already staff its semiconductor fabrication plant in Singapore. UMC also plans to invest US $110 million to establish an R&D center in Singapore. The new R&D center will focus on developing advanced specialty process technologies, such as CMOS image sensor backside illumination, embedded memory, high voltage applications and through-silicon via connections, for smartphones and tablets.
Qualcomm announced more than a year ago that it planned to establish an IC design and engineering R&D center in Singapore, focusing on chipset design and development. Singapore is now the home of the company’s offshore operations, including integrated factory management global logistics hub and its Test Center of Excellence, established in 2008 to develop innovative test solutions for 3G/4G wireless chipsets. “We’re looking for creative and motivated people to join our team in Singapore,” said a Qualcomm spokesperson. In recent months, Qualcomm’s search for tech talent for Singapore has focused on digital/high-speed bench test engineers and product development engineers. Singapore-based Stats ChipPAC plans to hire around 300 engineers this year to staff a facility it’s expanding 30 percent to 75 000 square meters. The expansion will support the company’s emerging post wafer fab process business and wafer-level programs for smartphone and tablet markets.
Taiwan is another busy hiring hub for engineers. NVIDIA recently posted job openings for 14 positions (mostly system software engineers, but also application support engineers). Others with high-skill tech job slots in Taiwan are Hewlett-Packard, Google, ARM, and Broadcom. Dell recently put out a call for at least seven IT specialists in Taipei, including program management and senior server analysts.
Intel, with 2650 job openings on its Web site in July 2013, mostly for technical professionals, plans to hire several people in Taipei, as well as Shanghai, Beijing, Bangalore, and Penang, Malaysia.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the leader in the contract chip manufacturing market, is looking for about 100 engineers, with most of them to be based in Hsinchu City in northern Taiwan. High on TSMC’s shopping list are semiconductor equipment engineers (with either a Bachelor or Master’s degree), software design and network management engineers (with Master’s degrees), and semiconductor engineers (Master’s and above).
Taiwan Mobile Innovation (TMI), a so-called incubator that hopes to attract mobile and Internet-related startups, providing seed capital of up to US $100,000, launched a hardware acceleration program in April aimed at penetrating Asian markets. Candidates must have prototypes, but are eligible for design support and Taiwan-based original design manufacturing (ODM), and reportedly has connections with HP, Dell, and Apple. (Luo Huai-jia, a Foxconn vice president, best known for producing most of Apple’s iPhones, recently told members of the Taiwan Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers’ Association: “Taiwan companies have always relied on being a contract manufacturer and outsourcing manufacturer. Now, we need to start looking at original design manufacturing and directly matching the needs of consumers.”)
Without being specific, Camillo Martino, chief executive of Silicon Image, Inc., says the company has available positions for its newly expanded Shanghai Research and Development Center to support the company’s mobile technologies in China and other Asia-Pacific regions.
SAMSUNG, SAMSUNG, SAMSUNG
In South Korea, Samsung is the big story. With sales of US $141 billion last year, Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest electronics company in revenue. In 2012, Samsung generated more than twice the smartphone sales than the following six vendors combined. According to IDC Worldwide Mobile Tracker, Samsung has 29 percent of the world’s mobile market share. Hiring specifics at Samsung are a little iffy, but one job blog indicates the company had almost 900 job openings in Bangalore in April in IT and software. Samsung Electronics India Software Operations, located in the IT hub of Bangalore, is one of 11 R&D centers of Samsung Electronics.
Fairchild Semiconductor started production at its new eight-inch wafer fabrication facility in Bucheon, Korea on 1 July to serve the high performance power and mobile semiconductor market sectors. The facility plans to hire 30 to 40 electronics engineers, and computer and software engineers, mostly from the region.
The Korean IT market also is growing. “As one of the most advanced markets in the Asia-Pacific, Ovum forecasts that the South Korean IT services market will grow to $16.4 billion in 2016,” says Jens Butler, principal analysts for business intelligence firm Ovum. The largest component of this growth is expected to be infrastructure services, representing 53 percent of the market.
Nokia Siemens Networks, meanwhile, plans to double the size of its R&D facility in the Philippines in response to the increasing demand globally for 3G and 4G mobile networks.
SEARCHING FOR REVENUE GROWTH
Despite all of these very positive signs of tech hiring in Asia-Pacific countries, a recent survey of U.S.-based technology executives by KPMG, the U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm, indicates they’re increasingly concerned about labor costs and low-cost producers, and suggests they’re looking outside China, India, and the United States for revenue growth in the next few years. Asked early this year what geographic markets will have the highest percentage revenue growth for their companies during the next 12 to 24 months, the executives cite the United States and China most often, but the numbers are down. While 68 percent chose the United States, that’s down from 75 percent in 2012 and 77 percent in 2011. About half (53 percent) chose China, two percentage points above the 2012 figure, yet 5 percent below 2011, while 27 percent chose India, down for the second year in a row and slipping to fourth on the list. “As would be expected, anticipated revenue growth and employment growth rates are closely connected so we are seeing increased employment expectations in a number of the countries that see revenue growth,” says Gary Matuszak, global chair, KPMG Technology, Media and Telecommunications. He also said that tech executives also are identifying regulatory and legislative pressures as growth barriers, which historically hasn’t always been high on their list of concerns.”
One tech jobs area not often tracked, especially on a global scale, is mobile application development. Mobile apps service company Flurry says mobile app developers are sprouting up all over China. Most of the start-up action is taking place in Chengdu Tianfu Software Park, a section of Chengdu’s High-Tech Development Zone. According to the Chengdu Information Office, more than 200 mobile internet firms are now operating in Chengdu. Many of these companies are staffed by people with skills cultivated at Intel, IBM, Cisco, Huawei, and Tencent.
Talent Neuron, a web-based talent planning and management platform, and a unit of Zinnov LLC, says there’s a gap in demand and availability of skilled mobile developers worldwide, including Silicon Valley, largely because the job requires constantly updated skill sets. While Silicon Valley leads in supporting this narrowly focused talent pool, Asia-Pacific has a small lead over European countries. The Asia-Pacific region is a “hot spot” for talent that works on the Android platform, according to Karthik Gopalakrishnan, manager of talent at Talent Neuron, whose study lists Beijing, Shanghai, and Bangalore as “emerging cities” in mobile apps development.
About Ron Schneiderman:
Ron Schneiderman is a contributing editor for Electronic Design and It Is Innovation (i3), and a regular contributor to IEEE Signal Processing Magazine. He's the author of seven books, including Technology Lost -- Hype and Reality in the Digital Age.