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최종편집 : 2023.11.27 월 18:07
Society & Global
Society & Global Section
확대축소프린트
 Kim Si-eun
Will It be Enough to Train Semiconductor Specialists?
제 205 호    발행일 : 2022.09.05 
  On July 19, the government reported a plan to train semiconductor specialists at a Cabinet meeting presided over by the president. The plan is to train Korean professionals to narrow the gap in semiconductor technology, which is arguably the core of future industries and national security assets. In addition, the government sets out to eliminate the shortage of semiconductor companies and establish a virtuous cycle of human resource development and industrial growth.
  According to the current manpower status, the labor shortage in the semiconductor industry is expected to intensify, so three major strategies have been put forward to cope with it. Each strategy is different, but the purpose is the same.
  The first is to expand the semiconductor-related quota through drastic innovation and support of regulations. The second is to secure a base for training semiconductor experts while focusing on fostering high-quality human resources to enhance the quality of participants. The third is to establish a mid- to long-term support base for training semiconductor specialists. 
If these strategies are actually implemented, what is the future outlook for semiconductors in Korea? Through an e-mail interview with Park Ki-beom, a researcher at the STEPI Science and Technology Policy Institute, a CBT reporter was able to gather information on whether there is any merit in the government’s plan to train experts.

Q1. In order to train semiconductor specialists, a strategy is needed to respond to the new demand of 12.7 million semiconductor workers over the next 10 years. To this end, the government has proposed ways to expand the quota, improve the quality, and build the foundation. If these policies are realized, what do you expect the future prospects of Korean semiconductors to be? Also, please explain the reason for the specific outlook.

  The rise and fall of the industry is accompanied by a number of socioeconomic conditions as well as manpower. A good example would be the shipbuilding industry, which has been running at the world’s highest level until 10 years ago, but has recently been revived after a large number of workers quit due to a sudden drop in work. Securing more workers related to semiconductors will help the industry unconditionally, but this does not guarantee the success of the semiconductor industry. Companies require a large pool of skilled people involved in any industry, because if we have workers with similar capabilities, we can employ them at lower wages. However, since Korea has multiple industries, human resources need to balance universal competencies (available in many industries) and special competencies (specialized in certain industries).

Q2. Regarding the plan to expand the quota for fostering semiconductor experts, it is said that the quota can only really be increased if the teacher securing rate is met which is one of the four major requirements to ensure the success of the newly established and expanded department.  At this time, in order to secure teachers, the qualification requirements for concurrent positions and recruitment would be eased for high-tech fields such as semiconductors, is there any problem that may arise when the qualification requirements are eased? If so, what are the ways to make up for this?

  The semiconductor industry requires knowledge of science and engineering from an array of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, electronic and electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and material engineering. Currently, science and engineering (as well as the humanities) produce a lot of Ph.D. holders, but the number of graduate students is limited, so competition is very fierce. Therefore, potential teachers are likely to be experts in a specific specialized industrial field, and the knowledge that they can impart is likely to be focused in a very specific field, which is not highly versatile. Easing the requirements may sound counterproductive but it will actually attract teachers who can impart a broader scope of know-how. 

Q3. Are there any additional ideas needed to supplement the three policies to foster semiconductor know how? If there is, please explain in detail. 

  In terms of the semiconductor industry alone, expanding the quota, improving the quality, and building the foundation are all necessary policies. However our country now has much bigger problems: the crisis of regional extinction, the crisis of local universities, and the decline of population. We need wisdom to revive the semiconductor industry and save the region. Even if the semiconductor industry becomes global and feeds our country, we should think about whether this is desirable if more than 100 local universities are closed in short succession.


By Kim Si-eun l sijm0711@chungbuk.ac.kr
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