There’s an online job bank for everybody these days, and now one exists for Taiwanese graduates of overseas universities.
Oh! Job Bank, a not-for-profit venture by Oh! Study Education Center, joined a crowded job bank market last November with its simple blue and white interface. According to project manager Veronica Chen (陳宥樺), the system has just reached 1,500 applicants and 275 companies that are offering about 100 positions.
Oh! Job Bank is striving to occupy a new niche: It requires that users have documented overseas study experience, and asks that employers offer a starting salary that’s 15 to 20 percent above the market rate.
The free database is entering a market currently led by 104 Job Bank, a fee-charging site (NT$31,500/year for companies) that claims 210,000 registered companies and 5 million users.
It also joins a healthy crop of specialized databases for people who know exactly what they want. There’s 518 Job Bank, which touts a speedy match between prospective employee and employer, and Yes 123, which offers counseling for the inexperienced job seeker. OKWork and GoodJob, two government initiatives, help to connect single parents, the elderly, Aboriginals and other minority candidates with employers based in northern Taiwan.
Andy Chang (張煦文), general manager of Asia Professional Group Corp (亞洲菁英資訊) in Taipei, has recently listed six information technology positions on Oh! Job Bank.
He is seeking C sharp and Java programmers who can render product in Mandarin and understand source code in English. He has been actively searching for months.
“It’s very hard to fill these positions,” he said. “It’s hard in general when it comes to this industry because you’re looking for language and programming skills combined.”
For years, Chang has used a mix of methods to recruit talent. He attends education fairs where tech students tend to flock. He also mentors undergrads at top universities. So far, the success rate has been low, as more students are choosing not to enter the job market directly out of college.
“Maybe we train a person for a year and he decides to go abroad and study. That’s fine, it’s good for the student. We just hope he comes back.”
In a short-term recruitment strategy, Chang subscribes to several local job banks.
“Of course, I have posted about these positions at other job banks, but this new bank is more targeted, so there might be a different result.”
But even a niche platform, plus his offer of slightly above-average pay, may not be enough to connect him with the bilingual programmer he seeks.
“Canada and China could easily outbid us,” he said.
Taiwan’s brain drain, once dire between the 1950s and 1980, had eased during the 1990s over government recruitment and projects like the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park. However, highly skilled workers continue to migrate from Taiwan at a net loss. The global financial crisis of 2008 has hit Taiwan’s human capital market hard, spurring demand for skilled workers from overseas employers offering better wages.
Even with last year’s raise to the minimum wage, real average wages adjusted for inflation hover below the level in 1998. Meanwhile, China’s average annual wage has soared and is projected to increase by 13 percent each year until 2015 under the current Five Year Plan, according to the China Labor Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based NGO that monitors workers’ rights.
Chang aims to compensate for a lethargic economy by being especially proactive. Late last month, he set up a booth at an overseas study fair at the World Trade Center where he chatted with young students, looking out of place in a sea of school representatives.
“We are only here to introduce ourselves. I know they are just about to leave, but it is best to plan early,” Chang said.
“Our hope is that once these kids are done with their schoolwork out there, maybe they can think of us.”