Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Job market shifting to Taichung, tracker says

RESTRUCTURING Manufacturers migrating to China, as well as mergers and acquisitions, are changing the employment situation, a job-tracking magazine said

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's job market is about to experience the largest restructuring in recent years, with central Taiwan set to take over from the north as the powerhouse of hiring, a job tracking and consulting firm said yesterday.

"The demand is much different now, due to the large-scale industry migration and company mergers and acquisitions over the past year," Kevin Zang (臧聲遠), editor-in-chief of the Chinese-language monthly job-tracking magazine Career, told a media conference.

Local industries have been migrating overseas, mostly to China, in recent years. The companies range from those in the traditional manufacturing industry to current high-tech and information technology enterprises.

The massive offshoring, including motherboard, handset and notebook manufacturing, has fundamentally changed Taiwan's workforce demand, Zang said.

As demand for high-tech employees weakens, many local firms have shifted or plan to shift to other business sectors, Zang said, adding that the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (新竹科學園區) in the north would consequently start playing a smaller role in sustaining the job market's momentum.

The same thing is happening in the banking industry as well, Zang said.

The nation's banking and financial service sectors have hired a considerable number of people in recent years, but the demand is expected to be much lower this year due to a slew of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) undertaken last year, he said.

The M&As were in accordance with the government's policy to consolidate Taiwan's overcrowded financial sector.

One major hiring force this year will come from the Central Taiwan Science Park in Taichung, which was established two years ago, he said.

Within two years, the science park has attracted investment of over NT$2 trillion (US$62.5 billion), mostly in the burgeoning optoelectronics sector and the latest 12-inch semiconductor wafer manufacturing sector.

"We released a lot of job opportunities, and will hire more this year to meet the capacity expansion," Liao Yeh-cheng (廖業承), a senior human resources manager at AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), said at the press conference.

AU Optronics, the nation's No. 1 flat-panel maker, plans to increase its workforce in the Taichung factory to 5,000 this year, and this is drawing a lot of engineers and technicians from Hsinchu to central Taiwan, Liao said.

The second sector that would create a number of jobs this year is the service industry, which has been expanding steadily over the past few years, Zang said.

With the business potential created by the lifting of restrictions on visitors from China, there are currently 46 high-class hotels under construction. The new hotels are expected to hire 13,000 employees after their completion, Zang said.

However, job vacancies in the service industry are not easy to fill, given the shift of labor composition, he said.

For instance, most college graduates are reluctant to seek entry-level positions in the service sector, which reported the largest shortage, Zang said.

With go-west fever remaining a significant factor, Career said that Taiwanese jobseekers in quality control, procurement, logistics, hotel management, consumer banking and advanced agriculture are in highest demand in China, which is keen to develop these sectors.

"In the past, Taiwanese people refused to work for underdeveloped Chinese companies, but they are willing now, as the market is taking off," Zang said.

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