Taiwan’s “talent crisis” has become a hot topic lately, on which everyone seems to have their own view. National Science Council Minister Cyrus Chu (朱敬一) said Taiwan is suffering from a talent gap, while Minister without Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) said Taiwan is “driving the fish away to deep waters,” and could deteriorate to a third-world country within the next three to five years. A high-tech business owner even said his business is unable to recruit skilled staff here, and that Taiwan is likely to export “Taiwanese migrant laborers” in future.
Meanwhile, some have started to point fingers at others. Political commentator Nan Fang Shuo (南方朔) said early last month that it is the lack of talent among Taiwan’s political leaders that has caused the country problems.
Others blame the problem on education reform, while high-paid professionals blame it on low unattractive salaries.
Does Taiwan really lack talented people? Take the following example:
In late 2009, Chen Li-yi (陳立宜), then-head director of Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp, and 200 staff resigned and moved to China where they established CSOT Corp, China’s highest-generation panel manufacturer in just 17-and-a-half months. This shows that Taiwan has talented people and that they are first-rate professionals.
There are innumerable examples of China’s policy to recruit Taiwanese high-tech talent. Some Chinese companies even pay Taiwanese professionals generously, offering a “one-to-one” ratio — they offer the same figures as in their original salaries, but in Chinese yuan rather than New Taiwan dollars. Who can resist this? No wonder the chairman of a high-tech business recently said with a sigh that China has lured more than 200 managers away from Taiwan’s machinery industry.
Oddly, while academics discuss Taiwan’s “talent crisis” with such passion, no one mentions the absence of a “technology protection law” for controlling the outflow of technological talent.
In more technologically developed US, Japan and South Korea, technology and talent have always been more strictly controlled. Had the Chi Mei case occurred in South Korea, those who moved to China could have been charged with industrial espionage, and the South Korean government could have arrested them at the airport for taking confidential commercial information out of the country.
To ensure economic security, the US passed the Trading with the Enemy Act, Atomic Energy Act, Export Administration Act and Economic Espionage Act in 1917, 1954, 1979 and 1996 respectively to protect sensitive advanced technology and talent, and prevent them from leaving the country.
The Taiwanese government is not so stupid that it does not know how important a technology protection law is.
In March 2002, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government lifted a ban that prohibited Taiwanese chipmakers from building eight-inch wafer fabs in China based on three conditions: the adoption of a technology protection law, only allowing chipmakers that had operated advanced 12-inch wafer fabs at mass production for at least six months in Taiwan to set up in China and limiting the number of Taiwanese wafer fabs that could be established in China. Because of this, the government drafted a national science and technology protection act and regulations for high-tech talent working in the mainland area.