China’s cooling economy hits hot chip sector start-ups and workers

Fresh from six months of training courses to build up his skills for a job in China’s talent-starved semiconductor industry, civil engineering graduate Frank Jiang has sent his resume to more than 20 chip companies since July.

Not one has responded with an offer.

In China’s Covid-ravaged economic climate, workers have been looking to switch careers to an industry being prioritised by Beijing, only to find that it too is suffering in the downturn and job prospects are dimming.

“With lay-offs almost everywhere, the jobs at chip companies are at least stable with decent payment,” said Jiang, who is struggling to replicate a friend’s earlier success of switching from teaching maths online to becoming a chip verification engineer.

An inability to boost hiring should be alarming to China’s leadership — it appears to push further out its goal of self-sufficiency in semiconductors. It is also a major concern of young jobseekers like Jiang as they discover the once-hot job market in chips is cooling. The topic entitled “The pessimistic situation of recruitment in the IC [integrated circuit] industry” has received more than 1mn views on Zhihu, a question-and-answer website in China.

“We only plan to recruit half of the number we did last year, but we have received more CVs this time,” said one human resources executive at a prominent chip company based in Shanghai, who asked to remain anonymous.

China’s semiconductor sector has suffered from both the

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