The idea that professional certifications will guarantee success in the job market may have become outdated, as the majority of young job seekers still experience difficulties finding employment despite holding more than one certificate, Council of Labor Affairs research showed.
According to the council’s latest survey on young people’s employment situation last year, 62.1 percent of young workers aged between 15 and 29 have obtained at least one professional certificate, an increase of 7.2 percent from the same period in 2010.
When asked about the types of certifications they held, about 34.4 percent of respondents said their certifications are technician-related, while 22.6 percent of those polled said they possess computer-related licenses, the survey showed.
The survey also showed that young women have a higher rate of certification than their male counterparts, at 67.7 percent.
However, a higher number of certifications does not necessarily translate into higher employment prospects, the poll showed, as 63 percent of respondents said their first job-hunting experiences did not go as smoothly as they had expected, despite holding more than one professional certification.
Among them, 62.5 percent of those polled attributed their difficulty finding employment to a lack of work experience, 33.6 percent said it was due to their inability to identify their areas of expertise, while 18.8 percent of respondents said they lacked the right skills for the labor market.
Lee Chien-hung (李健鴻), a professor at Chinese Culture University’s labor relations department, said the myth of the power of professional certification was particularly prevalent among vocational school students.
Lee said that at a time when a growing number of employers are applying the “theory of counter-signaling” in their competency assessments of job seekers with professional certifications, those who sought to boost their competitiveness by obtaining more “easily obtainable certificates” might only expose their weaknesses.
“Although the 80 types of qualification certificates issued by the Examination Yuan are well-recognized in the employment market, most of the certifications job hunters possess are either beginner-level (Class C) technician certificates issued by the council, or some language or computer-related licenses awarded by unknown organizations,” the professor said.
“Such certifications may help job applicants boost their self-confidence, but they can hardly give them any extra points and could even affect their chances of finding a job,” Lee said.
Nevertheless, the survey showed that it takes first-time job seekers less time to get a job if they find professional certifications or have made other preparations for the job hunt, such as gaining work experience and analyzing their career interests.
On average, job applicants who are well-prepared generally find a job within two months, compared to the 2.3 months needed for those who are unprepared, the poll showed.
In response, Lee urged young people to take up part-time jobs related to their career objectives or areas of expertise and participate in more international events to increase their employment opportunities.