Thu, Apr 11, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Nation must welcome more foreign employees

By Chen Yung-chang 陳永昌

Taiwan and Japan on March 21 signed an agreement to increase their working holiday visa quotas. Starting this month, the annual quota for Taiwanese joining the program in Japan is doubled from 5,000 to 10,000, the second increase since the program was launched in 2009.

The quota was increased in 2014 from the initial 2,000 people to 5,000, but it was not enough to meet the demand among Taiwanese to join the program.

According to Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata, more than 8,400 Taiwanese under 30 applied for the program last year, far exceeding the previous cap of 5,000.

As a result, Japan took the initiative to propose and unilaterally increase the quota, as there are only about 300 Japanese coming to Taiwan for working holidays annually, far below the quota of 5,000, which means that even if Taiwan raised the quota in the name of enhancing mutual benefits, it would not be of any practical significance.

The Nikkei Shimbun last month reported that seeking employment in Japan has become popular among young Taiwanese.

Data released by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed that in 2017 about 2,300 Taiwanese were granted working visas or highly skilled professional visas, a 30 percent increase from the previous year and two times higher than five years ago.

The latest Japanese Ministry of Justice statistics showed more than 10,000 Taiwanese last year applied for white-collar working visas in the “engineer or specialist in humanities or international services” category, almost 15 percent more than the previous year.

Comparing the two nations’ levels of economic development and salaries, it is an expected and natural development that young Taiwanese are eager to work in Japan and that more Japanese businesses look for talent in Taiwan.

In addition, an increase in the number of short-term working holidays for Taiwanese in Japan will inevitably result in an increase of the number if Taiwanese with long-term working residence visas.

The imbalance of Taiwanese working in Japan is expected to increase further, as Japan is facing a serious labor shortage and next year’s Tokyo Olympics will cause tourism to peak.

It is difficult to blame the younger generation for wanting to step out of their comfort zone and go abroad for a short-term working holiday to expand their horizons and devote themselves to highly labor-intensive jobs that they would never do back home.

Talented Taiwanese, dispersing around the world to find better opportunities to develop, is also sufficient evidence that young Taiwanese are not a fragile, internationally uncompetitive “strawberry generation.”

However, it is not a good long-term development for Taiwan when the nation’s valuable young labor force works in other countries. Taiwan must not sit idly by and watch the drastic outflow of talent.

Taiwan boasts a diverse and open society, livable and affordable living conditions, and warm and friendly people, along with better-than-average real purchasing power and the best environment for learning Mandarin.

All these elements are highlights that could be used to attract young foreigners to visit the nation for short-term working holidays or long-term employment.

Taiwan has the conditions to fare better, and Taiwanese should open their arms to welcome young people from Japan and every other nation in the world.

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