Lawmaker urges ministry to tackle unemployment

COMPENSATE::The minister of education said companies should help solve unemployment among young adults by offering graduates a more reasonable starting salary

By Rachel Lin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, May 04, 2013 - Page 3

The Ministry of Education should work harder to bridge the gap between a college education and the practical application of academic learning in the job market, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛) said.

Citing data obtained by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Chiang said there are currently 472,000 young adults who are unemployed and are not pursuing further education.

Of that number, 214,000 of young adults, or 45 percent, are “not in employment, education, or training (NEET),” a British term referring to people who are unemployed simply because they are unable to find a job, Chiang said.

Chiang further cited figures from the 2010 International Labor Organization’s poll on NEETs in Japan, New Zealand and the US, showing figures of 9.7 percent, 13.1 percent and 15.6 percent respectively.

Taiwanese NEETs account for 1 percent of the entire population of people aged between 15 and 29, which far exceeds the rate in other countries, Chiang said, urging the ministry to do something about the gap between what is taught in schools and its applicability to the market.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) added that the unemployment rates among people aged between 15 and 24 is rapidly approaching a critical level.

Currently 375,000 people in the 15-to-24 age group are unemployed, Lin said, adding that the rate of unemployment among young adults compared with other age groups only emphasized the severity of the problem.

In response, Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said that although statistics showed there was a trend toward those being unemployed having been in higher education, the responsibility still lay with the universities and the companies.

About 5 percent of college graduates are unemployed because of an increase in the number of university graduates in recent years and increasing competition in the job market, Chiang said.

The corporate sector cannot keep up with the rate at which college graduates are entering the market, the minister said.

Universities should do their best to bolster students’ competitive edge in terms of career opportunities, but companies should also start taking responsibility for the situation by offering more reasonable starting salaries, he added.

The minimum salaries offered by companies — influenced by government policies during the 2008 global financial crisis in an effort to boost employment — has long been a discussion point between jobseekers and companies, with jobseekers feeling that starting wages are too low, and companies claiming quasi-legal legitimacy for their low offers.

Both sides need to work harder to resolve the situation, Chiang Wei-ling said.