Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Jobs harder to come by, consultant says

CONFLICTING DATA The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said last month the average jobless rate for the first five months of the year was 3.84 percent

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The number of job opportunities on the market has dropped significantly this year, reflecting the nation's lukewarm economy affected by industrial migration and low personal consumption, an employment consultant said yesterday.

"The high-tech and service industries, two of the hottest sectors, did not offer as many job opportunities as they did in the past few years," Kevin Zang (臧聲遠), chief editor of the Chinese-language monthly Career Consulting, said by telephone.

Career Consulting held a job fair at the Taipei World Trade Center over the weekend, attracting more than 88,000 college graduates and job seekers scrambling for 12,000 positions offered by 80 enterprises, including panel maker AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), notebook computer manufacturer Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶電) and convenience store chain Taiwan Family-Mart Co (全家便利商店).

Industry migration to overseas markets, mainly to China, a lack of expansion in the local market and a slew of merger and acquisition activities have resulted in a hiring slump in the high-tech industry, especially in the semiconductor and panel maker sectors, Zang said.

Service industries, hard hit by the credit abuse storm last year and rising consumer prices, is expanding cautiously and offering limited job opportunities, Zang said.

As next year's presidential election looms, the outcome of which could affect cross-strait relations, many companies have adopted a wait-and-see approach to personnel expansion, he said.

Jobs in traditional industries, however, are increasing, he said. Riding the property market boom, hirings by real estate agencies and construction firms have risen this year with the strongest demand for real estate agents with postings in China and property managers, Zang said.

Many of the college graduates who visited the two-day fair found it difficult to find a desirable position, Zang said. Of approximately 300,000 college graduates entering the job market this year, only 35 percent of them landed a job between March and the middle of last month, he said, citing company statistics.

The figure is even lower, at 26 percent, a survey released by the Web-based 104 Job Bank (104人力銀行) said last month.

That gloomy outlook and sentiment, however, is not in accord with government statistics.

The average jobless rate for the first five months of the year was 3.84 percent, the same level as last year and the lowest since 2002, a statement released by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said last month.

The figure may be a result of a large number of people having moved to China in recent years, Zang said.

College graduates who failed to land a job and decided then to pursue higher education or train for an administration position in the government were not included in the jobless data, he said.

The government statistics also fail to reflect the change in the nation's employment structure, as the number of part-time employees has surged from 70,000 last year to 180,000 this year, Zang said.

The average starting salary offered to college graduates is approximately NT$26,000 (US$794) per month, which rises to between NT$30,000 and NT$36,000 a month for job seekers with a master's degree or above, Zang said.

The nominal wage level has remained at the same level for the past eight years, but due to inflation, real wages are shrinking, he said.

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