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Hualien County stone-processing industry faces labor shortage

2012/04/18 21:09:20

Taipei, April 18 (CNA) The stone processing industry in Hualien County is facing a serious labor shortage since demand for domestic stone has increased following a governmentcrackdown on stone goods smuggled from China, a representative ofthe county's stone industry said Wednesday.

The industry faces many challenges in recruiting workers, as even those from Hualien County prefer working in other parts of Taiwan due to the heavy work involved and poor working conditions, said Chen Fu-tai, an official with Taiwan Marble Association.

To add to the hiring woes, the Employment Service Center in theeastern county has been unsuccessful in pairing potential employeeswith suitable companies, said Tu Chia-sheng, the center's head.

In 2011, companies in the stone processing industry in Hualien County offered 300 job vacancies. Of the more-than 800 job seekerswho applied, only 36 were successfully recruited, indicating thatthe pairing success rate was less than 5 percent, Tu explained.

Tu pointed out that Taiwan's western counties provide better working conditions and job opportunities, which attract workers from eastern Taiwan. If workers were willing to learn and endure the hardshipsof the industry, Hualien County's stone industry would be willing to offer higher pay to attract workers, according to Tu.

Taiwan's stone processing industry is willing to do anything it can to keep people in the industry, including providing transport for employees,said Chen a day earlier.

The smuggling of processed stone goods from China in the last three to fiveyears seriously impacted the local stone processing industry, and it was not until last year, when the government imposed strict regulations to put an end to illegal smuggling, that the domestic industry begin to flourish again, said Chen.

Domestic demand has increased by 25 percent so far in 2012 compared to last year, Chen went on, adding that the annual output value this year is expected to grow by NT$5 billion (US$169.10 million) compared to 2011.

(By Andrew Liu and C.J. Lin)