Taiwan must put a stop to the endless cycle of brain drain
The China Post news staffTwo sets of figures published this week concerning Taiwan's employment indeed show some of the country's problems. The lesson, though, is less about the labor market itself and more about its educational, social and economic development.
January 25, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The government's monthly report on employment showed that the December jobless rate dropped to 4.18 percent, improving by 0.09 percentage points compared to November. Despite the improvement, unemployment among the young and educated is on the rise.
Meanwhile, a private consulting firm released a report showing that 69 percent of the companies it surveyed expect some of their employees to look for work in other Asian countries, particularly China, as well as Hong Kong and Singapore in 2013.
An unemployment rate around 4 percent is not exceptionally high, but the fact that more young and educated people are unemployed is worrying. It may mean that employers tend to hire older or more experienced workers, or that jobs available in the labor market do not meet the expectations of the young ones who choose not to accept undesirable offers.
We need to look at the demographics of the nation's young people to understand what their job preferences may be. Many of them are college graduates and their parents are probably much better off than their grandparents. That means they are under much less pressure to find a job after graduating and can afford to extend their wait for an ideal job.
The education system itself also contributes to an imbalance in the job market — employers are unable to find suitable employees while young people cannot find suitable jobs.
After a decade of education reform, almost all senior high school graduates can now go to college — thanks to the fact that many junior colleges have been upgraded to universities.
On the secondary level, vocational training is a much less desirable choice. The reason is obvious: parents these days usually do not need their children to enter the job market early to ease their financial pressures. They usually would want their children to go to college, and therefore regular senior high schools are their top preferences.