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THE COMPETITIVE SEMICONDUCTOR MANUFACTURING HUMAN RESOURCES PROJECT:

Second Interim Report
CSM-32
Clair Brown, Editor

3. Headcount and Turnover
Dan Rascher

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Operators
3.3 Technicians
3.4 Engineers
3.5 Temporary Workers
3.6 Occupation Ratios
3.7 Conclusion

3.1 Introduction

This section documents the distribution of employment levels and turnover rates across U.S. and Asian fabs for operators, technicians, and engineers in order to understand how employment stability, the use of temporary workers, and the mix of operators, technicians, and engineers vary across fabs. The employment levels and turnover rates in these fabs have been affected by external factors such as the existence of local or national labor markets, cultural influences, as well as trends in product demand. Poor training and restructuring were mentioned by a number of the fabs in our sample as being internal influences affecting employment dynamics. We find that between 1990 - 1994:

Employment levels were more stable in the U.S. than in the Asian fabs.
The Asian fabs have more turnover (mostly quits) than U.S. fabs.
Asian fabs use more engineers relative to operators, technicians, or managers than do U.S. fabs. The ratio of technicians to operators is fairly constant by product or region.
A high operator to supervisor ratio, and a high operator to engineer ratio is negatively correlated with some performance metrics.

Table 3-1. Employment Levels Across Fabs

Operators ASIA U.S.
MEMORY    
Mean 653.0 -
Median 425.0 -
Minimum 386.0 -
Maximum 1488.0 -
Std. Dev. 471.2 -
LOGIC    
Mean 382.5 342.0
Median 382.5 340.0
Minimum 379.0 257.0
Maximum 386.0 429.0
Std. Dev. 10.0 86.0

 

3.2 Operators

Table 3-1 shows summary statistics for the fabs by product type and region during the fourth quarter of 1993. In our sample, employment levels are higher for operators in the memory fabs than in the logic fabs. Significant regional differences in operator headcount for logic producing fabs are not apparent.

Table 3-2. Coefficient of Variation 1990 - 1994

Operators ASIA U.S.
MEMORY    
Mean 0.14 -
Median 0.07 -
Minimum 0.05 -
Maximum 0.36 -
Std. Dev. 0.13 -
LOGIC    
Mean 0.28 0.08
Median 0.28 0.04
Minimum 0.21 0.04
Maximum 0.36 0.15
Std. Dev. 0.10 0.07

Employment levels are less stable in the Asian fabs than in the U.S. fabs over time according to Table 3-2. The Asian fabs have seen a greater increase in employment over the time period than the U.S. fabs. Part of the increase is attributable to expansion. Logic producers have experienced more variability in Asian fabs than memory producers.

Table 3-3. Annual Turnover Information (levels)

Operators ASIA U.S.
MEMORY New Hires Quits Terminations New Hires Quits Terminations
Mean 114.0 113.0 13.5 - - -
Median 114.0 113.0 13.5 - - -
Minimum 57.0 78.0 0.0 - - -
Maximum 171.0 148.0 27.0 - - -
Std. Dev. 80.6 49.5 19.1 - - -
LOGIC            
Mean 138.5 147.5 - 63.0 5.0 18.0
Median 138.5 147.5 - 63.0 5.0 18.0
Minimum 106.0 147.0 - 35.0 5.0 4.0
Maximum 171.0 148.0 - 91.0 5.0 32.0
Std. Dev. 46.0 0.7 - 39.6 0.0 19.8

The number of new hires is strikingly close to the number of quits in the Asian fabs, but much lower in the U.S. fabs. The number of terminations as a percentage of the number of operators is significantly higher in the U.S. than in the Asian fabs. However, some of the Asian fabs have a goal of offering lifetime employment. There is more turnover in general in the Asian fabs. Some of the Asian fabs have only female operators who work a very short period of time and then leave the work force to get married. One fab said that the average amount of time that a female is with the company is 3.7 years. Some turnover is due to internal promotions where newly hired operators fill positions left open by experienced operators who are promoted to the technician job category.

"Retainment of employees is thought to be the single largest problem," reported by one Asian manager. They are faced with a very tight labor market because of competition from companies who require workers with similar skills. One company studied why they have such high turnover rates. They concluded that some of the important reasons were related to family leave, working the night shift, the desire to have a service job, and poor training. Another Asian fab even noticed that a lot of their quits occurred just after major bonuses were paid.



3.3 Technicians

Table 3-4. Employment Levels Across Fabs

Technicians ASIA U.S.
MEMORY    
Mean 145.3 -
Median 128.0 -
Minimum 108.0 -
Maximum 200.0 -
Std. Dev. 48.4 -
LOGIC    
Mean 134.0 96.0
Median 134.0 73.0
Minimum 68.0 60.0
Maximum 200.0 155.0
Std. Dev. 93.3 51.5

 

Table 3-5. Coefficient of Variation 1990 - 1994

Technicians ASIA U.S.
MEMORY    
Mean 0.19 -
Median 0.24 -
Minimum 0.06 -
Maximum 0.25 -
Std. Dev. 0.11 -
LOGIC    
Mean 0.17 0.14
Median 0.17 0.14
Minimum 0.10 0.12
Maximum 0.24 0.15
Std. Dev. 0.10 0.02

Like operators, there are fewer technicians at the U.S. fabs than at the Asian fabs regardless of product type. Unlike operators, there is no significant difference in the number of technicians across product type. Similar to operators, technician employment levels vary more in the Asian fabs than in the U.S. fabs. Upon inspection, the number of technicians in the Asian fabs is continuously fluctuating. The U.S. fabs generally showed mild, steady increases in technician employment levels.

Table 3-6. Annual Turnover Information (levels)

Technicians ASIA U.S.
MEMORY New Hires Quits Terminations New Hires Quits Terminations
Mean 14.0 7.0 - - - -
Median 14.0 7.0 - - - -
Minimum 14.0 7.0 - - - -
Maximum 14.0 7.0 - - - -
Std. Dev. 0.0 0.0 - - - -
LOGIC            
Mean 10.0 5.5 - 1.0 - 1.0
Median 10.0 5.5 - 1.0 - 1.0
Minimum 6.0 4.0 - 1.0 - 0.0
Maximum 14.0 7.0 - 1.0 - 2.0
Std. Dev. 5.7 2.1 - 0.0 - 1.4

As with operators, there is more technician turnover in the Asian fabs than in the U.S. fabs. The result is more surprising for technicians because they are mostly male and continue working even after they get married, unlike the female operators. This demonstrates that lifetime employment is not a rigid practice across all of Asia.

Table 3-7. Functional Headcounts - % of total

Technicians ASIA U.S.
MEMORY Process Equipment Process Equipment
Mean 8.6 91.4 - -
Median 8.6 91.4 - -
Minimum 3.2 86.0 - -
Maximum 14.0 96.8 - -
Std. Dev. 7.6 7.6 - -
LOGIC        
Mean 39.5 60.5 30.0 67.0
Median 39.5 60.5 20.0 80.0
Minimum 14.0 35.0 10.0 40.0
Maximum 65.0 86.0 60.0 81.0
Std. Dev. 36.1 36.1 26.5 23.4

Table 3-7 shows the breakdown of the percentage of technicians by job category across regions for logic and memory chips. A higher percentage are equipment technicians rather than process technicians in all product-region combinations. The ratio of equipment technicians to process technicians is much higher in memory chip producing fabs than in logic chip producing fabs. The ratios are similar in a comparison of U.S. and Asian fabs.

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