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China Times: Don't underestimate Taiwan's talent crisis

2012/08/09 11:38:47

Science Minister Cyrus Chu recently discussed the serious brain drain and talent gap facing Taiwan today, warning that the country will eventually lose its competitive edge and "perish miserably" unless the problem is properly addressed.

In fact, Chu already issued similar warnings three years ago when he was chairman of the Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research. According to Chu, recipients of U.S. doctoral degrees are paid NT$190,000 (US$6,346) per month for the position of assistant research fellow at Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institute. People with the same credentials, however, can earn NT$436,000 per month (including allowances) at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

With three years having passed, the pay for Taiwan's high-level talent now lags five times behind that offered in Hong Kong and Singapore.

On the other hand, foreign professionals are discouraged from coming to Taiwan because of the various restrictions and requirements that are considered unreasonable and unfair to foreigners.

For example, foreign workers are required to undergo a syphilis test as part of a health examination to obtain a work permit. Even after they have been granted permanent residency in Taiwan, their families can only travel to Taiwan on tourist visas.

Restrictions are also imposed on students from China and other countries to secure the same education and employment rights as locals. On the surface, Taiwanese might seem protected, but Taiwan's overall competitiveness is actually declining because it is barring top talent from entering the country.

When Taiwan has lost its magnetic attraction and its ability to gather talent, how can the country upgrade its industry? Compared with Singapore's efforts to attract professional immigrants and America's open-door policy welcoming international professionals and students, how is Taiwan going to compete with the rest of the world?

Now that the problem has been identified, it is important for our government to ease the related restrictions. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 9, 2012)

(By Y.F. Low)