Sun, Dec 11, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Jobless Aborigines at risk

SURVIVAL The government is working to reduce the unemployment rate among Aboriginals, and has set aside more than NT$6 billion in funding to do so

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

The consistently higher rates of unemployment among the Aboriginal population compared with the rest of the population puts their survival at risk, officials said yesterday.

A panel discussion involving the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), and the Council of Indigenous People (COIP) was held yesterday to discuss government initiatives to resolve the issue.

Deputy head of the Katagalan Institute Lin Hsiang-kai (林向愷) said that while the trend toward export trade in the 1960s had boosted the labor market, globalization in the 1990s had led to the closure of many industries in Taiwan, decreasing demand for laborers.

This, in addition to the legalization of the import of foreign laborers in 1992, had reduced job opportunities for indigenous people, a majority of whom are laborers.

"The economic development of Taiwan cannot be deemed fruitful if the economic survival of even a portion of the nation's citizen's isn't accounted for. Taiwan cannot call itself a democratic society if indigenous peoples' right to survive isn't protected," Lin said.

According to statistics presented by vice chair of the CEPD, Hsieh Fa-ta (謝發達), unemployment rates among Aboriginals have always been higher than that of the rest of the population, with unemployment differences peaking in 2001 at 5.26 percent for the general population and 14.86 percent for indigenous people.

Although the gap in the jobless rate has narrowed since then, with unemployment rates in May last year at 4.41 percent for the general population and 5.76 percent for indigenous people, the difference still raises concern.

In September, a joint proposal by the CLA, the CEPD and the COIP to promote employment for Aborigines was passed by the Executive Yuan.

The plan aims to lower the jobless rate among indigenous people to 4.1 percent and the unemployment rate of the rest of the population to 4.0 percent by 2007. Approximately NT$6.12 billion (US$185 million) will be invested in the venture.

CLA Vice Chairperson Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟) said, "This includes tourism and leisure activities such as hot springs, and the development of local ecology."

Vice chair of the COIP, Icyan Perod (夷將.拔路兒), emphasized the importance of educational initiatives for indigenous people.

"Figures show that a larger proportion of Aborigines are involved in labor opportunities than the general population, at 63.9 percent compared with 57.6 percent, yet the unemployment rates among Aborigines are still higher. This means that the education of indigenous people is on the underdeveloped side," he said.

He said one initiative will start next week, which will establish a database containing the qualifications of Aborigines over the age of 15 who are looking for work.

"There will be no more excuses for prospective employers who say that they cannot find indigenous talent," he said.

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