Vietnam to become key link in semiconductor value chain

April 26, 2024 | 18:31
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The Vietnamese government provided positivity and expectation for the country to develop its semiconductor industry at a pivotal conference on April 24 focusing on human resource development.
Vietnam to become key link in semiconductor value chain
Nguyen Chi Dung, Minister of Planning and Investment

With supply chain diversification and complex geopolitical developments, semiconductor manufacturers have been looking to relocate to various Asian countries.

Minister Dung said that the Vietnamese government is determined to develop the industry, and has created a favourable investment and business environment to entice large foreign-invested enterprises in the electronics field.

Currently, more than 50 semiconductor firms are operating in Vietnam, including Intel, Amkor, Hana Micron, Ampere, Marvell, Cadence, Renesas, Synopsys, Qorvo, Lam Research, and Coherent.

There is a quality and affordable workforce in the electronics industry in Vietnam, and it would be easy for them to transition into the semiconductor industry. More than half of the population is under 30 years old, and about 1.8 million students graduate from universities and colleges every year.

Vietnam has already upgraded its comprehensive strategic partnerships with most countries that have developed semiconductor industries. The joint statement on upgrading Vietnam-US relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership stated two groundbreaking cooperation points in innovation and high-tech, which included the semiconductor industry.

Particularly, this is one of the few countries with which the United States has signed an MoU to develop a semiconductor ecosystem, especially in developing human resources.

"Vietnam has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to participate in the global semiconductor industry value chain," Minister Dung said.

"To grasp this opportunity, Vietnam should focus on perfecting specific mechanisms to compete with other countries in the region, and synchronise its infrastructure such as electricity, water, transportation, fibre optic cables, and IT, while developing high-quality human resources over the next two years," Dung added.

It is estimated that the world needs to add more than one million engineers by 2030 for all stages of chip design, manufacturing, assembly, packaging, and testing. With an abundant labour supply and quality workforce, human resources are Vietnam's biggest advantage compared to other countries.

Therefore, investing in and training the workforce so they can enter the labour market as soon as possible is a sensible strategy and a decisive factor that will help seize investment and access to new technology, promoting rapid and sustainable economic development.

Vietnam may become key link in semiconductor value chain
Nguyen Manh Hung, Minister of Information and Communications

Nguyen Manh Hung, Minister of Information and Communications, stated that Vietnam has geopolitical advantages in the semiconductor industry. If Vietnam is at the centre of a circle drawn on a map, that circle would include 80 per cent of the world's semiconductor industry. That means Vietnam is at the centre of the globe.

"Vietnamese people have good genes for sci-tech, which is an important geopolitical advantage," said Hung.

Vietnam is the second-ranked country in the world in terms of rare earth reserves for the semiconductor industry. Its reserves are half the size of China's. Vietnam is also one of the few countries that has been working in the semiconductor industry for 20 years, since its initial foundation.

"We can assemble, design, and cast with over 6,000 engineers working in this field," Hung said. "Therefore, Vietnam should become a major global human resource player for the semiconductor industry by 2030. Our semiconductor industry will develop well, and attract much more research and manufacturing investment."

Vietnam may become key link in semiconductor value chain
Nguyen Kim Son, Minister of Education and Training

Nguyen Kim Son, Minister of Education and Training, pointed out two advantages of universities in training human resources for the semiconductor industry at present. Universities have been autonomous, managing their budgets for revenue and expenditure, while creating new majors and cooperating with international partners. The number of non-public universities is increasing, significantly contributing to the training of high-quality human resources.

The ministry has been working with domestic and international corporations and organisations and is near-completing a scheme to develop high-quality technical human resources for semiconductor manufacturing.

"In this scheme, we will solve the overall problem of building laboratories for various scientific industries. We are considering equipment so that can serve many high-tech fields," Son said.

The ministry has already asked universities and colleges to actively enrol students in semiconductor circuit design for the next school year, and the quantities are estimated at 4,000 engineers, 750 masters, and 60 graduate students.

"In this field, engineer qualifications are only the first step, while designing semiconductor circuits requires a master's degree and higher," the minister emphasised. "So we are also prioritising lecturers to pursue doctoral degrees in semiconductors and integrated circuits. More than 100 lecturers have already been sent to study abroad."

The Ministry of Education and Training is proposing six key factors to increase the quantity and quality of training in the semiconductor industry, including increasing the number of students studying in this field; training programmes and documents to be updated regularly; enough highly qualified and skilled lecturers; enough modern practical laboratory systems for all subjects; effective cooperation between businesses and foreign universities to improve the practicality of the learning process; among many other innovations.

Vietnam commits $1.08 billion to train 50,000 semiconductor engineers by 2030 Vietnam commits $1.08 billion to train 50,000 semiconductor engineers by 2030

Vietnam has underscored its ambition to develop a skilled workforce for the semiconductor industry, aligning with its vision to deeply integrate into the global value chain, spurred by robust industry growth and strategic international partnerships.

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Vietnam has plenty of work to do if it wants to become a true global hub for semiconductor manufacturing. Dr. Quan Le, principal investigator for the Semiconductor Workforce Development Research Grant under Fulbright University Vietnam, covered the potential for Vietnam and how to reach it with VIR’s Vy Vy.

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Chip design is set to boom in Vietnam in the coming years, with many investors entering the market. However, human resource training needs more backing for the industry to achieve high quality and capture opportunities.

By Nguyen Huong

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