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Wed, Mar 20, 2002 - Page 18 News List

High-tech jobs may spell recovery

HARDSHIP While a surge in job openings at high-tech firms shows renewed vigor in the economy, the unemployment rate is unlikely to drop for some time to come

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

A recent surge in job opportunities at high-tech firms demonstrates that the economy is rebounding, a senior job market pundit said yesterday.

"Several big players in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park are expected to hire thousands of staff over the next few months," said Rocky Yang (楊基寬), general manager of the 104 Job Bank Corp (104人力銀行).

Many companies downsized last year when the economy was slow, but now that orders are on the upswing, they have decided to recruit more talent, Yang said.

Last weekend, the world's second-largest made to order chipmaker, United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), held a job fair in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (新竹科學園區), attracting more than 1,000 job hunters for 300 openings. UMC will also be recruiting an additional 700 people in Tainan in the near future, Yang said.

Another job market insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) plans to recruit about 3,200 employees this year, while chip-designer MediaTek Inc (聯發科技) may hire up to 800 staff.

Most of the talent these firms need are experienced research and development engineers and professionals with chipmaking know-how.

Yang said that the current high-tech job market is even better than early last year.

"Our research reveals that the number of job opportunities that opened in the first quarter of this year at the Hsinchu science park surpassed the number during the same period last year," he said.

Meanwhile other sectors of the economy are looking better as well.

"Compared with the fourth quarter of last year, current job openings in banking industry and the international trading business have also increased significantly," said Wayne Shiah (夏瑋), spokesman at the 1111 Manpower Bank, an online job-search firm.

However, one government official at the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said that the economic rebound will do little to lower to the unemployment rate.

"Because so many people lost their jobs last year, it's will be very difficult to make up the difference," said Chen Jin-cherng (陳金城), deputy director of DGBAS's census bureau, adding that currently there are about 500,000 jobless people in Taiwan, while the total announced job opportunities are about 400,000.

"We need another 100,000 openings to balance the scales," Chen said. "Though the jobless rate may be cut slightly, the figure is unlikely to drop to the same level as early last year."

Taiwan's unemployment rate reached 5.14 percent in January 2002 and the situation may get worse before it gets better, Chen said.

"Taking into consideration the 60,000 students that will graduate this summer, the jobless rate looks set to rise again in June, July and August."

Unless the economy keeps growing and companies are willing to offer more jobs, the unemployment rate will remain high.

"I estimate the rate will be at somewhere near 5 percent at the end of 2002," Chen said.

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