Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Bountiful South: Beauty without borders

By Liam Gibson  /  Contributing reporter

Tran says that while job opportunities for the diaspora have increased substantially since she first came to Taiwan almost 20 years ago, the range of roles remains restricted. Tran adds very few make managerial positions due mainly to lower education levels as well as limited Chinese writing skills.

According to the last survey of Taiwan’s new migrant spouses, only 64.7 percent are employed. Of those employed, 37.9 percent are manufacturing industries and 3.2 percent in service industries.

Lee Lin-feng (李臨鳳), head of the Immigration Agency’s Immigration Affairs Division, says there are several programs afoot aimed at supporting and increasing skills for the country’s new migrants.

Lee says the New Migrant Development Fund (新住民發展基金), with an annual budget of NT$300 million, is behind the recent Make a Dream Plan (築夢計畫), through which migrants can receive NT$6,000 to NT$10,000 per year to kick start their business.

Vocational training programs run by the Ministry of Labor are also available through the fund, issuing industry-approved qualifications upon completion, with courses up to tertiary-level training.

Lee says creating these pathways is crucial because qualifications remain a major obstacle for migrants looking to enter white collar professions. She gives the example of Filipino spouses, many of whom are university graduates and speak perfect English, but are unable to work as English teachers in training centers because the Ministry of Education doesn’t recognize qualifications from many Filipino universities.

Lee says many new migrant spouses, 92 percent being women, also face resistance from in-laws who often expect them to look after their partner’s parents as well as children.

“This is why many choose to run a small-scale business they can run from home, such as making food products or handmade crafts,” she says.

She adds that while some Taiwanese families may take issue with spouses relocating back to their home country in managerial positions, perceptions of the role of spouses are now changing.

“We must encourage Taiwanese in-laws to be more flexible and promote greater mobility for spouses,” she says.

Bountiful South is a fortnightly column that covers Taiwan’s cultural, diplomatic, business and tourism connections with New Southbound Policy nations. Liam Gibson is a freelance reporter based in Taipei, where he researches regionalism as a postgraduate student at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development. You can reach him at liamtaipei@gmail.com

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