Tue, Aug 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

NSC mulls ways to counter brain drain

PLUGGING THE LEAK:The council said that Taiwan is losing out to China in the fight to lure foreign talent and that the nation has to act fast or ‘perish miserably’

Staff writer, with CNA

National Science Council Minister Cyrus Chu gives a speech on the opening day of a two-day science and technology advisory conference in Taipei yesterday, asking for suggestions on the nation’s growing brain-drain problem.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The National Science Council initiated a conference yesterday in which scientific advisers to the council will discuss a growing brain drain crisis that is threatening Taiwan’s economic and technological development.

National Science Council Minister Cyrus Chu (朱敬一) said participants at the council’s two-day conference on developing science and technology will brainstorm on stopping the brain drain and also on how to better link academic research with the private sector.

Part of the problem, Chu said, is that many of the foreigners working in Taiwan are not highly skilled.

Of the 450,000 foreign nationals who came to Taiwan to work last year, 400,000 were hired as blue-collar workers.

Most of the remaining white-collar workers were language teachers or involved in jobs that did not require technical skills or specialized knowledge, he said.

The conservative nature of Taiwanese society has also held up efforts to attract foreign professionals to work in Taiwan, he added, noting that few foreigners serve in decisionmaking positions in local companies.

At the same time, China’s aggressive efforts to recruit Taiwanese talent by offering high salaries is eroding Taiwan’s homegrown talent pool, Chu said.

On the eve of the conference, Chu raised the alarm over the brain drain, warning that Taiwan would “perish miserably” if it continued doing nothing to stop the country’s erosion of talent, according to local media reports.

The official said Taiwan has entered a “talent-gap era,” with fewer Taiwanese students going abroad for advanced studies and increasing difficulties in keeping talent at home or attracting top professionals from abroad, the Chinese-language United Daily News reported.

The Industrial Technology Research Institute, Taiwan’s top technology research agency, has already lost several senior executives to similar research organizations in China because it was unable to match China’s lucrative salary and benefits offers, Chu said.

To stop the drain, the minister said Taiwan should define “talent” and “workers” separately, and he suggested that caps on senior officials’ salaries at national research institutes should be lifted.

The government would use the conclusions from the conference as a reference when devising science and technology development strategies, the council said.

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