With the long-term success of Ireland and its European neighbours as semiconductor hubs, it’s easy to forget that this is very much a global industry. In fact, of the top five countries that manufacture and produce semiconductors, not a single one on the list is located in Europe. This means that for professionals who are either adventurous or simply looking for a major change of scenery, there are endless possibilities in the semiconductor industry.
It goes with saying that if we’re talking about job opportunities in the global market, then we should first look at the countries that produce the most semiconductors. Of course, there are many other countries such as Ireland and the UK where there are great opportunities for the right candidates, but we’ll get to those later.
While manufacturing operations tend to employ more non-skilled employees, there are still significant job opportunities in engineering, research and development, sales, and administration among others. So let’s take a look at the top five.
Taiwan is the global leader in semiconductor manufacturing thanks to one company — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). This company manufactures about 50% of the world's semiconductors. TSMC manufactures solely for other companies and has no products of its own outside of semiconductors. Its clients include Apple, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm. But it’s not just all about TSMC. With over 77 production plants located on the island nation owned by several companies, there are lots of job opportunities inTaiwan.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics corporation is one of the world's largest technology companies and also happens to be a major semiconductor producer. The majority of its production capabilities are focused on semiconductors for its own products. Needless to say, this means that job opportunities in South Korea and within Samsung itself cover a broad range of skill sets. And with 70+ manufacturing plants owned by myriad companies representing Korea’s biggest exporters, finding opportunities outside Samsung should also pose no issue.
It should come as no surprise that Japan, a country that embraces technology in every aspect of life, is one of the world’s top producers of semiconductors. There are over 100 semiconductor plants in the country owned by local companies and Taiwanese or American businesses. And such is the demand for semiconductors in the local market that Japan’s government is actively working on increasing manufacturing output. This could see Japan jump to the top of this list in a few years time although it would have its work cut out to topple Taiwan. As you can imagine, in a country where tech is everything, job opportunities are plentiful.
The USA was once a market leader in chip manufacturing, but the rise of Taiwan and other Asian countries saw its global market share drop from 37% in 1990 to just 12% in 2021. However, this doesn’t mean that the American industry has slowed down. There are still 76 production facilities and US-owned companies hold approximately 46% of the global market share. The USA is only fourth on this list because a lot of those companies have facilities in other countries such as Japan. While the global pandemic did result in a slowdown due to transportation issues for raw materials, the US government has since made similar moves to Japan. The hope is that manufacturing capacity will increase significantly in the coming years as a result.
And finally we come to China, the world’s primary general manufacturing hub. China is also in the midst of expanding its manufacturing capabilities and this is in no small part due to local demand for semiconductors. China itself is the world’s largest single market for semiconductors due to its general manufacturing sector. Currently, the country relies on imports from other countries to meet manufacturing demands. However, by 2030, the government hopes to have increased the country’s semiconductor manufacturing output to 25% of the global output. This will no doubt create a significant increase in the demand for professionals in the semiconductor industry.
One thing you may have noticed from the list above is that only one country is an English-speaking one. But while it’s true that integrating into society in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and China would be a much smoother process with a language lesson or two, securing a job in the semiconductor industry as an English speaker may not be as difficult as you might think.
Generally speaking, roles such as engineers, designers, and senior management positions should be able to get by initially with English as their main language. The truth is that with the global talent shortage impacting every industry across the globe, companies are willing to look abroad to the global talent pool to secure the right candidates for the position.
The Best of the Rest
European countries such as Ireland, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands also represent solid options for job seekers looking for the next role while Malaysia is another Asian country that has always been a global player.
Germany has 20 semiconductor fabrication plants currently in operation while the UK has 12. These are the two biggest manufacturers in the European industry, but that is an aside. There’s a huge number of research and development departments located in European countries such as Ireland and France. While job opportunities within these countries may be more niche than those in major manufacturing countries, they may be considered an easier option for EU citizens.
If you decide to make your move abroad, you’ll need to understand that it’s not just the work culture that you need to embrace. Living in a different country can be an exhilarating experience. But it pays to be mindful of the fact that if your plans are long-term, there are other factors to consider such as the local language and your ability to learn it.
Wherever you decide to start your adventure, we wish you the best of luck.
Thinking about putting Ireland at the top of your list of possible destinations? Then get in touch with Software Placements and let’s talk about the semiconductor opportunities here in Ireland.