Wed, Apr 20, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Report highlights problem of brain drain

Staff Writer, with CNA

Fearing that a brain drain could jeopardize national security as China makes recruiting scientists and technical experts a major goal of its 12th Five-Year Plan, and as South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore woo Taiwanese professionals in the medical field, among others, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reportedly ordered the National Security Council (NSC) in October last year to assemble an expert panel to study the “talent deficit” crisis.

Earlier this month, Ma chaired an NSC meeting during which National Taiwan University professor Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝) gave a briefing on the panel’s findings.

The panel’s report compared talent inflows and outflows on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Citing China’s census data from last year, the report said there were now 700,000 Taiwanese who reside in the Shanghai area.

In Taiwan, the number of legal economic immigrants was 493,000 at the end of 2007. The report also said Taiwan received a total of 441,000 non-economic immigrants between 1987 and last year, with women accounting for 96 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is gradually losing its trained professionals. The report said that Singapore is using high salaries to recruit medical and healthcare personnel, Hong Kong is luring away well-known academics and South Korea is targeting the country’s technical talent.

Faced with such headhunting, Taiwan needs to take action, Chen said.

“How to keep talented and experienced people at home has become a serious issue that Taiwan cannot afford to ignore,” he was quoted as saying at the meeting.

At the same meeting, Tsay Ching-yen (蔡清彥), chairman of the government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), said the institution was being hurt by a “talent drain.”

According to Tsay, 38 institutions similar to the ITRI have been established in various Chinese provinces over the past few years.

The ITRI is Taiwan’s largest applied technology research and development (R&D) institution and helped pioneer the high-tech industry.

Tsay said the ITRI was facing another hurdle in its efforts to keep its R&D talent.

In an attempt to root out “fat cats” from the public sector, the Executive Yuan recently asked the ITRI and other government-funded nonprofit institutions to offer their heads no more than NT$184,960 (US$6,360) per month. It also set a ceiling of NT$161,020 on monthly pay for ITRI R&D personnel.

“Such rigid restrictions will only make it more difficult for us to retain our researchers in some cutting-edge technological fields,” Tsay said.

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