Taiwan is facing a challenge asking other countries to increase the quota for Taiwanese youths under working holiday programs because the number of young people coming from partner countries is relatively low, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said on Saturday.
The official said that since Taiwan signed its first working holiday program pact — with New Zealand in 2004 — it has signed similar pacts with Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany, South Korea and the UK.
Each country, except for Australia, imposes a quota on the number of Taiwanese youths allowed in under the program, and the openings fill quickly every year.
Japan, for example, sets a quota of 2,000 Taiwanese youths a year, while Canada increased its quota to 1,000 from the original 200, but there are still not enough places to meet demand.
More than 10,000 Taiwanese youngsters now travel overseas every year on working holidays, compared with less than 1,000 young people from abroad who have come to Taiwan over the past eight years.
“Because the number of young people coming to Taiwan has been far lower, it is difficult for Taiwan to ask other countries to increase their quota,” the official said.
Among the problems Taiwan faces in drawing working holiday visitors is the country’s relatively low pay rates and the lack of orchards or farms like those in Australia that need temporary workers during the harvest season, the official said.
Taiwan’s restaurants and shopping malls are also not used to hiring short-term foreign workers, the official said, limiting employment opportunities suitable for the program.
He suggested that youth hostels and restaurants in tourist areas hire foreign youths on working holidays, saying “it would be mutually beneficial.”
Taiwan issued 43 working holiday visas to New Zealanders from June 2004 to January and to 517 Japanese from June 2009 and January.
Taiwan has issued working holiday visas to 38 Canadians since July 2010, to 27 Germans since October 2010, to 175 South Koreans since January last year and to 128 Australians since the deal with Australia was reached in November 2004.
No visas have been issued yet to any British travelers under the program with the UK, which was only implemented in January.