Wed, Jan 23, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Taiwan losing skilled workers: report

BRAIN DRAIN:Taiwanese are increasingly lured to China, Hong Kong and Singapore by higher wages and shorter hours, while wages in Taiwan are falling farther behind

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

From left to right, Chris Preston, director of British recruitment agency Michael Page’s operations in Taiwan, European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan CEO Freddie Hoeglund and Michael Page’s North Asia regional managing director Dan Chavasse, left to right, present their Taiwan 2013 Salary and Employment Forecast report in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Taiwan is losing talented workers to other Asian countries as many seek career opportunities abroad to obtain higher salaries and a better work-life balance, an inaugural annual report by British recruitment consultancy Michael Page International showed.

The report, presented in association with the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT), affirms a shortage of skilled personnel across all industry sectors at all levels, a phenomenon that the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) blamed last week for hindering the nation’s competitiveness.

Most employers surveyed, 69 percent, anticipate their skilled employees will look for career opportunities in other Asian countries and relocate for work this year because salaries in Taiwan are lower, the report said. While Hong Kong and Singapore remain popular destinations, the majority of respondents, 67 percent, identify China as the preferred destination for departing professionals.

“The shortage of professional talent will present challenges for employers, particularly when economic conditions pick up,” Michael Page Taiwan director Chris Preston said.

A total of 58 percent of the respondents are expecting a skills shortage over the next 12 months, he said.

The lack of talented workers will put pressure on salary levels, with 41 percent of employers polled indicating a salary increase of 3 percent or 4 percent this year, the report said.

Michael Page regional managing director for North Asia Dan Chavasse said the adjustment was insufficient compared with the increase of 4 percent or 5 percent in Hong Kong and 7 percent in China.

For the first 11 months of last year, regular wages in Taiwan averaged NT$37,333 a month, down 0.59 percent from a year earlier after adjusting for inflation, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday.

The figures are higher for white-collar professionals, the target of the Michael Page survey.

Salaries aside, skilled workers are likely to leave their current employers to pursue a better work-life balance, the report said.

The majority of Taiwanese work more than 40 hours a week, with 22 percent working between 45 and 50 hours, and 10 percent working 50 hours or more, the survey showed.

To attract and retain talented professionals, employers will need to adopt a range of strategies, including non-financial incentives, such as career development opportunities and work-life balance options, Preston said.

For employers in multinational firms, learning and development opportunities are a popular career incentive, the report said, adding that some companies groom their talent in Taiwan and then provide them with career opportunities in other Asia-based locations.

However, financial rewards remain important, Preston said.

A large majority of the companies polled, 80 percent, said they would base salary increases on employee performance, according to the report.

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