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TSMC's Arizona Fab Hiring Woes Prompt Calls for Willing Taiwanese Migrants

Taiwan's Liberty Times revealed today that TSMC has considerably relaxed requirements for Taiwanese residents interested in pursuing a career in the company's stateside operations. In a headline, it jokes that those with just a high school diploma can snag a TSMC factory technician job in Arizona. No particular experience is outlined as a requirement, according to the report. However, applicants must have an 800+ score in TOEIC English proficiency tests.

Arizona Fab 21 jobs that TSMC is trying to fill with inexperienced homegrown personnel include various technician roles operating machinery, inspecting products, and doing prescribed maintenance. Successful Taiwanese applicants will finish a work placement on the island and finish this year before being dispatched to Arizona for at least two years. The TSMC factory work schedule is a mix of nights, days, 2-on and 2-off, 4-on and 3-off, and similar patterns. Accommodation, travel subsidies and so on will be provided.

(Image credit: TSMC)

Readers might be wondering why TSMC isn't hiring for these lower-end technical positions in the US, as the requirements are so low. After pondering over some of its job ads aimed at US residents, it becomes apparent that the company's requirement of a six to 12-month training period in Taiwan would not appeal to many people. However, some jobs with more strenuous requirements, like an engineering degree, still ask successful applicants to travel to Taiwan for extended training periods.

We did find some easier to qualify for jobs at TSMC for US residents. A Manufacturing Associate position asked for a diploma from finishing high school and preferably some work experience in a team environment (something you could claim from school project or a summer job). Ideally, the applicant would have "a love of technical hobbies" and would "aspire to better the world through mindful business practices that focus on key sustainability goals, ethical management, and helping the underprivileged." These entry-level positions still needed active passport holders to go to Taiwan for training.

The struggle to find and retain talent is a well-established problem for most major technology companies. Unfortunately, TSMC, with its ambitious recent, current and near-future expansion plans, is one of the worst affected by this personnel crunch.

US-based rival Intel Corporation set aside a multi-billion dollar fund to retain and attract top talent. It planned a targeted distribution of $2.4 billion in cash and shares to employees as performance and loyalty bonuses. Interestingly, if the sum was distributed evenly across all of Intel's employees, everyone could get a $21,000 bonus.

TSMC was recently in the news as its chief executive said that the N2 node would enter risk production in 2024 and for high-volume manufacturing (HVM) to begin toward the end of 2025. 

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • peachpuff
    I dunno... west taiwan is a bit cooky, wouldn't want to spend a year there. A week or two sure, but anything more is lunacy.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Wow. You want to pay so low you can't get local high-school kids that natively speak English to work there, so you're going to import slave labor high school kids from Taiwan? Yeah, lets stock our leading-edge fab with the absolute cheapest personnel we can find. That's going to fly like a lead balloon.

    Meanwhile you need a minimum of a BS in STEM-related fields to be considered for an entry level position at Intel and they have no problems finding workers. Amazing.
    Reply
  • DougMcC
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Wow. You want to pay so low you can't get local high-school kids that natively speak English to work there, so you're going to import slave labor high school kids from Taiwan? Yeah, lets stock our leading-edge fab with the absolute cheapest personnel we can find. That's going to fly like a lead balloon.

    Meanwhile you need a minimum of a BS in STEM-related fields to be considered for an entry level position at Intel and they have no problems finding workers. Amazing.

    Came to say roughly the same ... raise wages you <removed>. Qualified people will work for money. The H1B situation in tech just gets worse and worse.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Right? I mean, has anyone explained to TSMC that we have minimum wage laws? That's an honest question. They don't seem to understand that they have to actually follow the laws in the USA. They appear to be used to special preferential treatment and just assume they can do things how they always do.

    Well that isn't going to work my friend. You can't pay pennies a day and demand that money back in exchange for a cot on the factory floor. You actually have to pay people and let them go home after so many hours.
    Reply
  • Michaeltc16
    Thats some BS. I'm Taiwanese American with 8 years manufacturing experience with two U.S. college degrees currently working 60 hour weeks and all my applications to TSMC were quickly rejected, even the entry level positions. I can get to the interview phase easily at other companies but maybe TSMC algorithm is screening me out.

    I dont know if it happens at TSMC, but some companies have HR and hiring managers who reject qualified applicants so they can hire their unqualified friends and relatives for that job, then tell the senior supervisor that their relatives/friends were the only one who pass the screening process.
    Reply
  • drigondii
    Might have something to do with how many Americans are quitting over unsafe working conditions, abusive work environments, and the company’s general habit of treating its employees like property rather than people. Complaints have been circulating among the US hires that they (tsmc) largely do not have the intention of even obeying the laws for labor and safety, let alone maintaining a healthy or sustainable work culture.
    Reply
  • KananX
    drigondii said:
    Might have something to do with how many Americans are quitting over unsafe working conditions, abusive work environments, and the company’s general habit of treating its employees like property rather than people. Complaints have been circulating among the US hires that they (tsmc) largely do not have the intention of even obeying the laws for labor and safety, let alone maintaining a healthy or sustainable work culture.
    They obviously can’t do that and are forced to adhere to the regional law. But it’s really puzzling to me that they don’t have high standards for recruiting people, if wages are that low.
    Reply
  • Umfriend
    So with all these accusations against TSMC of trying to import low-wage labor from Taiwan, has anyone checked how much TSMC is actually paying for these positions in Arizona? Looking at https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=TSMC+Arizona&l=Peoria,+AZ&vjk=e32096e988b63e4e&mna=5&aceid=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpImTBhCmARIsAKr58cwMZjMdogmjXikyNZjSH16Lq38Fil_plk8iaQmIbTksvhWDzkf6WJcaAuCREALw_wcB, it doesn't seem that bad to me actually.
    Reply
  • DuncanStives
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Wow. You want to pay so low you can't get local high-school kids that natively speak English to work there, so you're going to import slave labor high school kids from Taiwan? Yeah, lets stock our leading-edge fab with the absolute cheapest personnel we can find. That's going to fly like a lead balloon.

    Meanwhile you need a minimum of a BS in STEM-related fields to be considered for an entry level position at Intel and they have no problems finding workers. Amazing.

    Buddy the article literally said the issue was the requirement to travel to Taiwan which you seem to be confusing with China... Taiwan has reletively high wages... Also I wouldn't hold up anything Intel is doing as an example to be followed. They are currently about 3 years behind the curve on advanced semiconductor fabrication. In fact TMSC makes 92% of the worlds 5nm node stuff with the remaining 8% coming from Samsung in SK. The fact that we have allowed our nation to fall so far behind in SC fabrication is a national embarrassment and a HUGE strategic blunder. Anything that gets domestic capabilities built up should surely be a top priority of the USA (imagine the scale of the supply chain crisis if China invades and the war shuts down the fabs?? Make what we have seen so far look like a joke).

    I were the president anyone and everyone with provable expertise in the fabrication of advanced semiconductors would be granted a full citizenship effective immediately upon arrival, have all travel and relocation expenses paid to bring them and their families to the US and receive job placement assistance and a stipend sufficient to live in comfort for 3 months to give them time to find a job they are happy with. This would be paid out of the defense budget due to the stratigic importance of this issue (and I should note that it would not amount to a hill of beans compared to everything else we spend money on).

    Russia's tank factories are already idled due to lack of semiconductor components just weeks after losing access to international suppliers right when they are needed most. Silicone makes the modern world operate... It is literally impossible to overstate the stratigic importance of these components and yet as a nation we have allowed our entire supply chain to become concentrated in one unstable region half a world away... Arrogantly assuming that because most advanced DESIGNS come from the US that actual manufacturing is somehow beneath us. I guarantee if CPC troops start showing up on the shores of Taiwan that idea will be out the window and fast... By this point it will be WAY too late. The Western world would find they have literally no choice but to defend the country... WWIII Speedrun and there are no winners.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Umfriend said:
    So with all these accusations against TSMC of trying to import low-wage labor from Taiwan, has anyone checked how much TSMC is actually paying for these positions in Arizona? Looking at https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=TSMC+Arizona&l=Peoria,+AZ&vjk=e32096e988b63e4e&mna=5&aceid=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpImTBhCmARIsAKr58cwMZjMdogmjXikyNZjSH16Lq38Fil_plk8iaQmIbTksvhWDzkf6WJcaAuCREALw_wcB, it doesn't seem that bad to me actually.

    Those wages are abysmally low for the industry. The absolute top end of the pay range of a technician is $54k a year according to your link. Technicians at the Intel plant down the street start at $70k a year. A PHd level chemical engineer with a top end of $95k a year? That's peanuts.
    Reply