High wages can be found despite economic slowdown

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Feb 01, 2013 - Page 5

Affected by the global economic slowdown, many of the nation’s business sectors were at a low ebb last year.

A job bank survey last year found that nearly 30 percent of respondents earned less than NT$20,000 (US$670) a month in their first job after leaving school, and that 30 percent earned slightly more than NT$10,000 a month in their first job.

However, despite the hard economic times there are still people earning high wages.

Chen Hua-yi, 22, is the new manager of a Uniqlo outlet in Taipei, and earns NT$74,000 per month as a basic wage, not including two bonuses per year.

Chen may enjoy an annual income of more than NT$1 million, but she has to work in the store for more than eight hours a day, monitor shipments, costs and sales, meet headquarters’ revenue demands and manage several dozen subordinates.

“The money is really hard to earn,” Chen said.

Before reaching her current position, Chen said she started out as a shop assistant.

The firm’s basic training requires that Uniqlo clerks must be able to fold a piece of clothing in seven seconds, and fold at least 5,000 pieces per day. They have to pass screening tests to be selected for more senior positions, with several positions in the chain before reaching the position of store manger.

Despite a heavy workload and the strict training and promotion process, the Japanese casual-wear giant can still attract first-time jobseekers with salaries of up to NT$46,000 per month for an employee on a management fast-track program and a minimum of NT$74,000 per month for a store manager.

Serving at the popular Din Tai Fung dumpling restaurant is also financially rewarding, though challenging. A manager at one of the restaurants can earn a minimum of NT$70,000 per month.

However, employees must undergo at least seven years of training and pass screenings to have a chance of running one of its outlets, the company said.

By comparison, working at a counter in a department store or in boutiques might not require such tough professional training, as long as employees are good at parting people from their money.

Paid on commission, counter staff can earn as much as NT$200,000 in just 12 days during department store sales.

Boutique operators said that in the economic slowdown, counter staff must be able to make friends with rich clients if they want to earn high incomes.

For example, the Loewe brand store held a three-day leather clothing show last year that was only open to “very important people.”

The show made tens of millions of New Taiwan dollars in sales for the company, with each salesperson earning as much as an average month’s salary for an office worker.