Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 10 News List

High-tech professionals look south

SCIENCE PARK The number of jobs in the Taichung and Tainan area is expanding as technology firms expand their plants and other facilities in the region

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

With two science parks in the center and south positioned to be the nation's new technology centers, high-tech professionals are showing signs of being willing to move from big cities in the north to the southern countryside, a job-tracking firm said yesterday.

"The fast expansion of the Southern Taiwan Science Park (南部科學園區) in Tainan and the Central Taiwan Science Park (中部科學園區) in Taichung have triggered a wave immigration among high-tech workers," Kevin Zang (臧聲遠), chief editor of the Chinese-language Career Consulting, told a press conference yesterday.

Tainan, the capital of Taiwan in the Ming Dynasty, is about to regain its ancient glory with the red-hot optoelectronic industry.

Citing statistics from the Human Resource Commission of Association Allied Industries in Science-based Industrial Park (台灣科學工業園區), Zang said that the work force in the Southern Taiwan Science Park had increased from 8,475 three years ago to 27,377 as of June, and will grow to 34,000 by the year's end.

The huge labor demand is not surprising, given the rising output value of the southern park, which has increased from NT$110 million in 1998 when the park started operations, to NT$155.3 billion last year, Zang said. He said the park is expecting that figure to exceed NT$300 billion this year.

Major companies in the park include Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), the nation's second largest flat-panel maker, and smaller rival HannStar Display Corp (瀚宇彩晶). Both firms are seeking to expand their current factories in order to boost capacity.

"In Tainan, vacant land and farms are quickly being turned into office buildings or factories as more and more companies choose to set foot in the new Silicon Valley in south Taiwan," said Iris Chen (陳昭伶), director of HannStar's human resources development division.

Tainan's comparatively low living expense has attracted many people looking for jobs, Chen said.

HannStar's Tainan plant, for instance, increased its recruitment to 1,500 workers up from just 500 workers earlier this year, with one-tenth of that number transferred from its Hsinchu plant.

"We need another 1,200 people in the Tainan plant and we are confident that the vacancies will be filled by the end of the year amid the `go-south' trend," Chen said.

The region's new residents, with their comparatively greater purchasing power, are helping to bolster the area's service sector and real-estate market.

For example, Taichung used to have the nation's highest vacancy rates, with apartments near the Central Taiwan Science Park selling for NT$30,000 per ping. But now prices have rocketed to NT$190,000 per ping, Zang said.

Most of the so-called new immigrants, in fact, are people who were originally from the area but have worked in the Taipei region or the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (新竹科學園區), which provide more job opportunities than other places in the country, Zang said.

"The inflow of talent is just like a U-turn, which will help to balance the developmental differences between town and country," Zang said.

The gap between town and country will be significantly narrowed following the inauguration of the north-south High-Speed Railway at the end of next year, said Christina Ongg (翁靜玉), chairman of Career Consulting.

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