A survey by the Ministry of Labor suggests that the value of college degrees has declined over the past two decades, as starting wages for college graduates new to the workforce in July last year stood at NT$25,634, while college students 17 years ago received starting salaries of NT$27,209.
According to the survey, base salaries for graduates with master’s degrees or higher averaged NT$32,396, while those who had only completed bachelor’s degrees averaged NT$28,986 per month.
While the survey showed a steady increase in annual wages for all higher-education students — the survey showed that wages for people with bachelor’s degrees increased by 1.73 percent, wages for those with master’s degrees or higher rose by 1.03 percent, while master’s graduates with arts degrees saw increases of 0.79 percent — the increases were below average.
The ministry said education demographics in the late 1990s included master’s degree students with college students due to the low numbers of master’s graduates, adding that a distinction between such degrees and bachelor’s degrees was added in 1999.
The ministry said that college-graduate-level pay has regressed by nearly 17 years, as entry-level wages stood at NT$27,462 in 1999.
The survey showed that in descending order for different jobs, average starting wages were NT$32,448 for professional experts; NT$27,401 for technicians and assistant professional personnel; NT$24,722 for support staff; NT$24,089 for mechanical operators; NT$23,654 for sales and service staff; and NT$21,195 for basic technicians and laborers.
The average salary in the electricity and gas provision industry was NT$75,520, while the base wage was NT$66,684, the survey showed.
According to statistics provided by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, the annual average salary per month in the industry last year was NT$94,022.
The ministry said the industry’s high average wage was due to wage stability at Taiwan Power Corp and CPC Corp, Taiwan, which hired the majority of the sector’s workers.
The statistics showed that the lowest pay grade in the electricity and gas provision industry was NT$36,000, which places the industry far higher than the average NT$23,452 offered by education service industries — which include cram schools and driver’s education classes — and the NT$29,350 paid on average to restaurant and hotel workers.
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