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Ma stresses significance of education, employment link

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday recommended that the Ministry of Education take note of the International Trade Institute (外貿協會培訓中心), saying that each student of the institute has 10 job opportunities awaiting him or her upon graduation.

 The Kuomintang yesterday held its weekly Central Standing Committee in which Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) gave a report on the development of Taiwan's higher education.

 After hearing Chiang's report, Ma, who doubles as chairman of the ruling party, said that he fully supports the ministry's plan to narrow the discrepancy between education and employment and to increase the competitiveness of local universities and college graduates.

 In 2001, Taiwan produced a total of 170,000 graduates with bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, the president said.

 Last year, that number increased to 330,000, the president said, adding that given the supply and demand imbalance, it is comparatively harder to find a job now.

 The president said that he spoke with Chiang about English proficiency on at least five occasions, adding that English language skills are a comparative weakness of local students.

 The International Trade Institute accepts 300 students each year, and after two years of studies, each graduate is faced with more than 10 job opportunities, the president said, adding that under his suggestion, branches are being planned in Central and Southern Taiwan.

 The MOE should think about why it is that the International Trade Institute, which accepts college graduates from various disciplines, is able to boost its student's job prospects, and why is it that this can't be done during college, the president said.

 Taiwan lacks natural resources, but it does not lack talent, the president said, adding that education plays a crucial role in maintaining competitiveness.

It is good that universities are getting recognition through international rankings, but the most important thing is to ensure that students have job opportunities waiting for them upon graduation, the president said.

Ma said that college education does not equate to vocational training, but after four years in school, students ought to be sufficiently prepared to enter the job market.

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