Thu, Nov 02, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Recruitment act a welcome move

The legislature on Tuesday passed the Act Governing Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals (外國專業人才延攬及雇用法), which seeks to loosen requirements on, and remove obstacles to, foreign professionals working and remaining in Taiwan.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Karen Yu (余宛如) hailed the act as addressing the nation’s twin low-birth-rate problems of a shrinking talent pool and a transition to a superannuated society.

The act does not cover all foreign workers. Its scope is limited to foreign professionals, which it specifies under three categories: Foreign professionals, including language teachers and foreigners engaged in skilled work in Taiwan; professionals with specific core technical, economic, educational, cultural, artistic and sports skills deemed essential to the nation; and senior professional personnel as needed by the state.

The National Development Council cites two major international studies — the World Talent Report 2016 by Switzerland’s International Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Center and the Oxford Economics Global Talent 2021 report — as identifying Taiwan as having a “severe talent deficit” due to a net outflow of skilled professionals that is “growing more serious by the day,” due to the fiercely competitive international professional jobs market and a lack of incentives for professionals to work in Taiwan.

According to the council, the legislation is to relax provisions relating to foreign professionals’ visa, residence, insurance, tax and retirement conditions, to make the work environment friendlier.

In return, the nation benefits from being able to fill gaps in domestic talent and skills; the increased internationalization of Taiwanese companies’ positioning; the bolstering of its political and economic relations with other nations; and the promotion of industrial development and technical advancement.

Perhaps some of the more welcome and long-awaited changes are the extension of permanent residency rights and employment rights to spouses and children over 20, after certain conditions are met, or the increased options for receiving a pension.

These will make it easier for professionals with families, or those thinking they might want to settle in Taiwan, to accept employment here.

If you accept that foreign professionals can make a major contribution to the nation, and that Taiwan needs more immigration of professional foreign nationals to improve its prospects, then it only makes sense to remove pointless bureaucratic obstacles.

That addresses the issue, to a modest degree, of net talent outflow.

However, in what way does it address the problem of the transition to a superannuated population?

The repercussions of the low birth rate have received much attention lately. They include the increased burdens on pensions, healthcare and long-term care for the elderly, shortages of students, a real and proportional reduction in the working-age population and fewer recruits for the military.

How will immigration of non-nationals, and the extension of pension benefits, address this?

To be clear, this is not an argument against immigration, or for the denial of the extension. Any suggestion that replacement immigration is the key to the demographic problem should be seen as a distraction at best, and should come with a warning at worst.

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