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How Is China Finding the Talent to Become a Self-Reliant Chipmaker?

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China flag atop computer chip, illustration

Credit: Getty Images

China is the world's largest consumer of computer chips. The government wants 70 percent of those chips to be domestically made within five years, up from 30 percent last year.

The integrated circuit industry's rapid development in China means high demand for skilled staff, and the industry now has a huge labor gap, lacking 320,000 qualified employees, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said last September.

The China Semiconductor Industry Association said that fewer than 20 percent of university graduates in majors related to integrated circuits actually went to work in the field.

Starting pay is one issue. Computer science masters can typically start with a salary of around 200,000 [US$29,602] to 300,000 yuan [US$44,412], "but for electronic engineering or microelectronics, [it] probably starts from 100,000 [US$14,804] or 200,000 [US$29,602]," said Zhou Pingqiang, assistant dean of School of Information Science & Technology at ShanghaiTech University.

The central government has taken measures to nurture homegrown talent.

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