Young jobseekers apparently prefer restaurants over factories, as reflected in a recently released survey by Chinese-language magazine Cheers. The survey found that local restaurant chain operator Wowprime Corp is the top choice for young jobseekers this year, the third consecutive year it has headed the list.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, is the only firm in the manufacturing sector that remains on the list of top-10 employers, probably because of its record profits and positive corporate image.
TSMC saw its ranking climb four notches to No. 3 this year, according to the survey released on Monday.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, which assembles Apple Inc’s popular iPhones and iPads, has fallen to No. 17 this year in a downward spiral from being on top of the list in 2008.
The results indicate a major reshaping of the job market — college graduates are more willing to work in the service sector, in restaurants, hotels and travel agencies — rather than applying to technology firms. W Hotel, E-Da Theme Park and Le Meridien Hotel were ranked No. 13, 23 and 26 respectively, their first appearance among the top 30 employers.
In the past, positions offered by companies in the service sector have usually involved underpaid waiters, waitresses and cooks. People working in those jobs had low social economic status. Now, everything is different.
Chef Cheng Yen-chi (鄭衍基), better known as A-chi-shih (阿基師), is now considered a role model for people born between 1990 and 2001, along with Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), according to a survey conducted by the Council of Labor Affairs.
The main reason behind this major change is that the service sector offers better wage-growth potential and better chances for promotion. Also, business in the sector is thriving, compared with the withering technology sector amid intensifying competition from global rivals.
This is despite technology firms usually providing better paychecks than other businesses. According to Cheers, technology companies usually pay between NT$40,000 and NT$45,000 a month on average, higher than the average payroll offered by other enterprises, which ranges from NT$30,000 to NT$35,000 per month.
Apparently, without the long-abandoned lucrative year-end stock bonus grant, technology firms have no appeal to college graduates. The youngsters will not take a three-shift job at a factory where they have to wear uncomfortable cleanroom suits for just 34 percent more pay. They prefer juggling their career and social life, rather than dedicating much more of their time to work.
This change in the job market and jobseekers’ mindsets reflects the change in Taiwan’s industrial development — the rise of the service sector and the decay of the manufacturing sector. Most Taiwanese electronics firms, including HTC Corp and notebook computer makers like Acer Inc, are suffering a decline in profits and market share due to cutthroat competition.
As the talent pool shrinks, Hon Hai is offering higher salaries to snare talent from Google Inc. And more companies are trying to woo talent by launching aggressive internship programs for college students.
Is there something wrong with this phenomenon? Certainly, it is a serious headache for executives of technology firms, as they have to sweeten offers to recruit talent. However, for the economy, this may be the labor pains that the country has to suffer in its transition to a more balanced economy. The nation is heavily reliant on the manufacturing sector and exports to grow GDP. Hopefully, the emerging service sector may become a second pillar of the economy.