What comes to your mind when you think of Semiconductors? Silicon Valley? Jobs being shipped overseas? To me, this is an industry where engineering talent is constantly being recycled, rather than refreshed. According to a discussion at a recent GSA meeting, engineers who are in their 40s are considered young in this industry, where most of the population is over 50. This was evident to me when I came back to this industry after spending four years in other pursuits. A few weeks after being back, I was really exited to man the Constellations booth at DAC, an EDA/Semiconductor conference, hoping to see a lot of fresh young engineers. To my disappointment, all I saw was a number of familiar faces (now 4+ years older) manning the booths and walking the aisles. It was almost like I had never left.
As time went on, I started attending a few other conferences in the area of semiconductors and the same faces from DAC reappeared. Now curious, I started doing some reading about the different industries that new college grads were gravitating towards. According to Business Insider and Salary.com to cite a few, systems and application software jobs and careers in the biomedical field were more attractive to young engineers than semiconductor jobs. In certain polls conducted by other research firms, semiconductors did not even make the top ten. Sad!
Technology touches every segment of human life today, from the ultra cool smart phones and tablets to the next generation space shuttles. Semiconductors are a major factor in bringing these new technologies to fruition. Why, then, is there is a lack of interest for college grads? Why is this?
(i) Do they believe that there is no more breakthrough or significant innovation in the field of
semiconductors, that it is more evolutionary than revolutionary?
(ii) Is the industry simply not the coolest thing (read: sexy enough) anymore?
(iii) Do they perceive a lack of career growth opportunities?
(iv) Or is it a combination of all of the above?
There is a common saying that the semiconductor industry is a black hole that sucks anyone that tries to leave, back into it. Unfortunately for the semiconductor industry, it sucks back the older generation but struggles to pull in new talent This situation is not a pretty one and needs to change soon. It is time that semiconductor companies and organizations like Silicon Valley Leadership Group join forces to promote awareness amongst our college grads and next generation thought leaders to join the field that put Silicon Valley on the map as the technology capital of the world.
We are taking steps to engage young engineers in our community. Throughout 2015, Take Five with Warren will feature interviews with professors and deans from engineering programs at the top universities in Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area. Visit IP WATCH regularly to take advantage of this content