TSMC's plans to hire 3,000 people signals global recovery

Industry bellwether TSMC will expand chip production capacity as global demand for laptops, smartphones, and netbooks has leaped

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) plans to hire more than 3,000 people this year as it expands chip production capacity and develops advanced new manufacturing technologies, the company said Thursday.

The world's largest contract chip maker said it "is most eager for" chip production engineers and researchers. The company's recruitment drive begins Friday.

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TSMC is considered a technology industry bellwether for its size and the range of devices for which it makes chips. Its new hiring plan indicates the global technology industry continues to recover from the global recession, which caused widespread layoffs in 2009. Early last year, TSMC laid off over 200 workers due to poor business conditions. Most Taiwanese chip makers laid off workers last year, reduced salaries and asked workers to take unpaid leave as the recession hit demand for chips.

Global demand for a range of gadgets has leaped since the middle of last year. LCD TVs, laptop computers and Blu-ray Disc players led global sales last year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The industry group predicts these devices will continue to lead in 2010, with the addition of other popular gadgets, including smartphones and netbooks. Global sales of consumer electronics, which includes PCs, will be flat at $681 billion this year, after declining last year.

The hiring plan by TSMC also comes as it faces new competition in the global contract chip-making business from GlobalFoundries, a joint venture between AMD and Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC). GlobalFoundries on Wednesday said it absorbed Chartered Semiconductor, the Singaporean contract chip maker, into its operations. The new contract chip maker, which matches AMD's manufacturing capabilities with cash-rich ATIC, hopes to gain market share this year.