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August 24, 2017

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Taiwan's brain drain crisis continues unabated

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Up to 72.5 percent of a total of 720,000 Taiwanese people working abroad have an undergraduate degree or higher, a signal that Taiwan's brain drain has not abated, according to government data released yesterday.

The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) released its latest data on labor outflow, which dates to 2015.

The tallies showed that mainland China had drawn the most overseas Taiwanese workers in 2015, attracting about 58 percent of the total.

The next-most popular countries for Taiwan's workers were Southeast Asia, with 15.4 percent, and the U.S. with 12.7 percent.

But the allure of mainland China also saw a decline of 3.75 percentage points from seven years ago.

Meanwhile Southeast Asia surged 3.78 percent, indicating that Taiwanese people were, as early as 2015, already looking southward for job opportunities.

The number of overseas Taiwanese workers with a college or higher education level soared 5.6 percentage points to 72.5 percent in 2015.

In other words, one out of every 10 Taiwanese people with at least an undergraduate degree was working abroad.

Commonwealth magazine reported that Taiwan's talent drain was one of the two major reasons behind a recent warning issued by Oxford Economics that Taiwan will become a country suffering the biggest talent shortfall in the world.

Another reason is the increasingly low birth rate, the magazine said.

The magazine said that a worrisome phenomenon was the rapidly increasing ratio of Taiwanese people under 30 moving to work abroad, worsening the talent drain.

Commonwealth pointed out that 7 years ago, Taiwanese people in the 30-34 age bracket had the highest percentage of overseas Taiwanese workers. By 2015, the highest percentage belonged to the 25-29 age bracket.

Hsin Bing-jung, an associate professor at National Taiwan University, attributed the undesirable phenomenon to the fact that the lingering sluggishness in the local job market in the past 10 years.

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