Taiwan's economic performance ranking in the recently released IMD 2012 World Competitiveness Yearbook fell five notches from last year's place to 13th.
Local academics said the substantial drop in national competitiveness could mainly be attributed to government inefficiency or incompetence.
In an interview with the United Daily News (UDN) Press Group, Chi-Huey Wong, president of Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institution, said the country's current plights lie in three categories -- imbalances in manpower supply and demand; overconcentration of investment in certain industries; and technological research failing to meet demand in the industrial sector.
Former Premier Liu Chao-hsiuan said both the government and private corporations should invest more in manpower cultivation to help speed up national development.
The following are excerpts from special reports in Friday's editions of two UDN papers on challenges and solutions to Taiwan's growth bottlenecks:
United Daily News:
Academia Sinica President Chi-Huey Wong said Taiwan's brain drain mainly results from its inability to create a good working environment and conditions.
Such a failure has also discouraged top-notch tech talent from seeking jobs in Taiwan, Wong said.
He also attributed relatively low wages or salaries in local society mainly to the country's blunt technological competitiveness.
In his view, Wong said, Taiwan's income levels would have been much higher if it had managed to own many world-renowned product brands or possesses key manufacturing technologies and strong R&D capacity.
To deal with Taiwan's talent crisis, Wong said the government should further ease manpower recruitment restrictions on education and research institutions, such as rigid equal pay scale.
More important, the government should develop different standards to evaluate colleges and universities, Wong said, adding that the current assessment system is seriously flawed.
"The current system single out the number of academic papers as the most or sole indicator to measure a school's achievement, which has led to production of many useless or meaningless papers," Wong said, adding that many of Taiwan's 160-plus colleges and universities have cultivated students with same skills or talent who cannot meet the demand of local society or industrial sector.
Vocational schools or technology colleges should focus on cultivating students' capability to develop new design and new products instead of conducting basic research or writing academic papers, Wong said. (June 22, 2012).
United Evening News:
Former Premier Liu Chao-hsiuan said the government should follow the lead of Japan and south Korea in sending more outstanding people to prestigious foreign universities to pursue advanced studies.
Private corporations should also invest more in manpower cultivation and provide incentives to attract well-trained or talented foreign professionals to pursue career or launch joint ventures in Taiwan.
Besides donating funds for local universities to build new facilities, Liu said, private companies should also offer financial support for their talented employees to go abroad for advanced study.
As private R&D projects tend to aim at pursuing economic benefits, Liu suggested that those projects focus on mid- and downstream technologies to boost innovation.
"Innovation refers to technology, business models, institution, way of thinking, design and culture that can bring changes and new value to society and economy," Liu said, adding that only innovation can help break bottlenecks to economic development. (June 22, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)