Stan Shih, founder of computer vendor Acer Inc., recently put forth the concept of a "bachelor technician." He suggested that technology universities in Taiwan should serve as cradles of world-class technicians and provide high-quality skilled talent to enterprises to pave Taiwan's way toward becoming a global R&D and business operations hub.
The suggestion provides a way out for the existing predicament facing Taiwan's higher education system.
Despite a sharp increase in the number of universities in the country over the past decade, the training received by their graduates cannot cope with the needs of industrial practices. While young people are having difficulty finding jobs as a result, many companies are having to rely on foreign talents to supplement their workforces.
Such a contradictory phenomenon reflects the lack of efficiency and a clear objective for the country's education policy.
The focus on quantity increases instead of quality improvement is undermining the employment opportunities and competitiveness of Taiwan's college graduates. Our education authorities must not turn a blind eye to the crisis.
Over the past decades, Taiwan has made many efforts to reform its education system, with an emphasis on reducing students' stress and ensuring a fair distribution of educational resources. Such reforms have misled and distorted the country's educational investment.
The unemployment rate of young people in Taiwan is currently the highest among Asia's four little dragons, and the salary levels of Taiwan workers are lower than 10 years ago. The situation is attributable to the failure of the country's higher education system.
Universities have a responsibility to foster talents for industry and an obligation to help students prepare well to reduce the barriers and frustrations they may face in the job market. There is, therefore, a need for universities to pay closer attention to their connection with society and industry. (Editorial abstract -- June 29, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)