Demand for tablets, smartphones creates jobs in Taiwan

TSMC and UMC need engineers to keep up with a surge in orders that began last year

Semiconductor companies in Taiwan plan to hire thousands of new employees on the island this year to meet the fast-growing global consumer demand for smartphones and tablet PCs.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) plans to hire 4,000 to 5,000 people, up to 3,000 of those by the end of June, company spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun said Monday. That would come to about 14 per cent of the company's total worldwide workforce.

TSMC needs new workers, mostly chip design engineers, or technicians to staff its growing factories as the company raises capital expenditures for 2011 more than 31 per cent to US$7.8 billion. The company makes chips for global clients including Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

"This hiring is according to capacity," Sun said. "There is demand from our 456 customers."

TSMC has never hired so many people over such a short period, she said. But vacancies should be easy to fill because job seekers know the company's name. Filling the jobs would mean brand-name manufacturers can ship their notebooks, tablets and phones without delays.

"There are a lot of things being made, but smartphones and tablets are the main drivers," said Yang Lee-chia, an analyst with SinoPac Securities in Taipei. "It means that the growth rate for both should be pretty decent."

Shipments of app-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets are in line to reach 377 million this year and 462 million next year, overtaking conventional PCs, IDC said in December.

TSMC isn't the only Taiwanese chip company looking for new talent this year.

Taiwan-based United Microelectronics (UMC), the world's second-largest contract chip maker, listed 138 job openings on its website on Monday and expects to "hire continuously" throughout the year, a company representative said. UMC needs 800 to 1,000 new workers in 2011, local media reported over the weekend.

UMC expects to use 90 per cent of its capacity this year, producing about 1.26 million eight-inch wafer equivalents this quarter. Its 2010 revenues rose 36 per cent over the previous year, largely because of orders for smartphone parts.

Nanya Technology, Taiwan's top DRAM maker, will hire "several hundred" employees this year, slightly higher than the usual 100 to 200, as business grows, company spokesman Pai Pei-lin said.

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