Thu, Jun 06, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan’s talent shortage a threat

By Tai Po-fen 戴伯芬

British research institute Oxford Economics has released its Global Talent 2021 report in which Taiwan is graded as possessing the strongest “talent deficit” of any nation in the world.

Six out of 10 Taiwanese who leave the nation to work abroad are professionals. Due to a skewed birth ratio and an aging society, Taiwan’s talent deficit is even more serious than in Japan.

Every year Taiwanese universities take on 300 to 400 doctoral students, including 110 from other nations. Regardless of whether they are publicly funded or independently funded, and no matter whether their doctorate is from a local institution or obtained abroad, all doctorate holders face the same problem: They are trapped in a contracting job market.

Highly educated, talented young Taiwanese are facing a difficult dilemma: live a cloistered life at home or join the low-salaried masses; become an exile in China or stay behind and stagnate within Taiwan’s unstable higher education market.

Half of the teachers at Taiwanese higher learning institutions are aged 50 and above. Full-time positions at colleges and universities are hard to come by. Senior teaching staff are either doing all they can to postpone their retirement or are changing jobs.

State-run and private colleges and universities alike are only offering the younger generation temporary, project-based teaching positions or low-salary, part-time positions.

National Chung Hsing University is even offering unpaid part-time teaching positions, providing the bare minimum to give doctorate holders the title of a teacher.

Could it be that Taiwan has no need for talented planners or designers? Graduates from National Taiwan University are often unable to find suitable jobs and end up going to China.

Surely, as an aging society, Taiwan is in need of talented policymakers. One Taiwanese student who obtained a doctorate on aging societies from a Japanese university was unable to find work after returning home and was forced to go to China to teach for one year.

However, the student could not stand the restrictions on academic freedom at Chinese universities and came back to Taiwan, picking up part-time work teaching Japanese.

Is Taiwan not in need of talented students of Aboriginal studies to help formulate policy in this area?

A Taiwanese student with a government scholarship studied at a famous Canadian university and obtained a doctorate from Academia Sinica. Currently out of work, their career is on the rocks.

Doctorate holders from domestic institutions are undervalued, while those who have obtained their degree abroad are out of work. Public scholarship recipients finding it difficult to land jobs demonstrates that even the highest-educated in society have become casualties of Taiwan’s broken education policy.

Last year, Beijing increased the number of benefits and subsidies aimed to attract Taiwanese businesses and professionals to 31, and has also been buying up and investing in Taiwanese assets, and organizing “exchange programs.”

However, these tactics have branched out to include attracting Taiwanese talent and capital, including domestic research and development organizations.

Furthermore, individual researchers are allowed to apply to participate in key Chinese research projects and can apply for Chinese award programs.

According to a survey conducted for the Ministry of Science and Technology, 75 percent of Taiwanese under 40 who have moved abroad are teaching in China.

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