Periodically, the issue of talent shortage becomes headline news in Taiwan, followed by heated debates among businesses and government agencies. However, is it true that the real issue is not a lack of personnel, but rather insufficient opportunities?
Recently, a leading player in the semiconductor industry said that the most urgent economic problem the nation faces is a dearth of talent, which jeopardizes business improvement and industrial innovation. Others blame bureaucracy for difficulty in attracting foreign white-collar workers while demanding regulatory liberalization and tax exemptions to facilitate foreign workers’ entry and exit.
So to get this straight, when Taiwanese businesses face challenges, they complain about employees’ lack of experience and skills for high-end jobs. However, when it comes to improving organizational structure and developing corporate governance culture so that employees and customers will benefit, suddenly companies are only concerned about obstacles to hiring foreign workers?
Whose problem is this, anyway?
When Taiwan’s economy surged in the 1970s, domestic businesses generally complained that they could not find adequate job candidates with the necessary skills to keep up with companies’ progress.
Then, as the economy continued to grow in the 1980s and early 1990s, the government made efforts to promote higher education.
What were businesses concerned about then?
They said little about work skills, expressing worries over employee loyalty.
In the late 1990s, many local electronics companies experienced global market success and increased domestic hiring. However, they also began criticizing employees’ growing aggressive self-assertion, as more people started expressing their opinions and their ability to think independently. As the nation’s economy faces new challenges and more young people look for job opportunities abroad, most bosses again have said they are worried about the younger generation’s lack of ambition and insufficient skills.
For businesses, it is easier to blame someone else — the people, the society, the government or anyone — than to think that the fault also lies with them.
For instance, it is not often seen that bosses blame themselves for a lack of vision when their businesses falter, for example when they have spent little on research and development or on sufficient resources to improve their organizations with an adequate merit system and quality work environment.
The more employers complain about potential employees, the higher the possibility that employers do not have the ability to attract talent and retain good employees — whether Taiwanese, overseas Taiwanese or foreign white-collar workers.
Arguably, a mismatch between employers’ talent expectations and prospective employees’ skills has led to many businesses worrying over a talent shortage. Further, current school curricula and vocational education do not provide new graduates with the necessary skills required for the jobs available.
Businesses play as important a role as the government and educators serve to cultivate the younger generation. Businesses do have jobs within their organizations that can help nurture young employees and offer growth opportunities. Enterprises must realize their responsibility to provide a vision for their employees and understand that together they can help change the nation’s economic landscape.