Sat, Jul 14, 2012 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: NIA touts Southeast Asian language skills

Staff Writer, with CNA

Knowledge of a Southeast Asian language, especially Vietnamese, can give job-seekers the edge in finding employment, as evidenced by a recent National Immigration Agency (NIA) recruitment examination.

The NIA, which recruits people at irregular intervals, said that in recent years the agency has targeted the growing number of foreign spouses of local nationals for services and that it is in need of more people who know Southeast Asian languages.

Taking this year’s test as an example, the agency said those who registered for the Thai or Vietnamese tests were 10 times more likely to be offered a job as those who opted for the English test.

The agency said that among those who registered to sit Southeast Asian language tests, such as Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese, one in 10 was selected, compared with just one in 100 selected from among those who took English, French or Japanese language tests.

The NIA said the agency holds examinations for both junior and senior civil-servant positions.

Those who who pass the junior exam can expect a monthly salary of NT$40,000 (US$1,330), while those who pass the senior test get a starting salary of up to NT$46,000, both salaries much more attractive than the average offered in the private sector, the agency said.

NIA Director-General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) said that those keeping their fingers on the pulse of society know that the country is in need of people who know Southeast Asian languages and that they should take courses in those languages.

“Southeast Asian language courses would be a big help for students seeking employment after they graduate,” Hsieh said.

In recent years, the Ministry of Education has provided subsidies to senior-high schools that offer second languages, including Vietnamese.

Chang Ming-wen (張明文), director of the ministry’s Department of Secondary Education, said a visit to an online recruitment Web site showed that those who speak Vietnamese have a choice of more than 1,300 jobs, far more than those who know other languages.

However, the Department of East Asian Languages & Literature at National University of Kaohsiung is the only department in the nation that offers Vietnamese language courses.

Even before students majoring in Vietnamese graduate, Taiwanese businessmen with operations in Vietnam make them handsome job offers of up to NT$45,000 a month to try to secure them, said Chern Jyh-wen (陳志文), director of the department.

He said the department has three divisions — Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean — and that the students who major in Vietnamese almost always find jobs. If they work as special assistants for Taiwanese businessmen in Vietnam, they can take home a salary of NT$45,000, as well as accommodation, benefits that are better than most graduates with Master’s degrees are offered.

According to Ministry of Education statistics, 10 percent of the mothers of students in elementary schools come from Southeast Asia and China.

Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said on Thursday that the ministry would come up with measures to encourage children from immigrant families to learn to speak the mother tongues of their parents.

“If a child learns more than one language, it will build up his or her competitive edge,” Chiang said.

National Chengchi University offers classes in Vietnamese, Thai and Malay for the public, of which Vietnamese has proved the most popular.

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