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Talk of the Day -- Ph.D. holders settle for low-paying jobs

2012/10/06 20:08:37

A doctoral degree holder defeated nearly 3,000 applicants on Friday to secure a low-paying position as a track maintenance worker for the Taiwan Railways.

The applicant, Wang Hung-min, will become the first person in Taiwan with a doctorate to take up the lowest-ranking position at the TRA. The job pays NT$29,000 (US$988.8) monthly and requires workers to walk 20 kilometers per day to inspect railway tracks.

He was among 155 new maintenance workers hired by the TRA who needed to pass a written exam and a physical test that asked the applicants to run 40 meters carrying a 40-kilogram sandbag in 20 seconds.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the issue:

United Daily News:

After an economics graduate from a prestigious local university went to Australia for a better-paying job as a manual laborer, sparking concerns that more Taiwanese are leaving low-paying Taiwan for higher-wage countries, the hiring of a Ph.D. holder to inspect tracks has again drawn widespread attention.

The number of Ph.D. holders in Taiwan has increased five-fold over the past two decades. But fewer openings at Taiwanese universities, with fewer students to teach because of a declining birth rate, have left 4.5 percent of the nearly 4,000 people who get Ph.D. degrees each year underemployed or unemployed.

Many Ph.D. holders turn to Civil Service Exams to pursue a civil servant job, which is considered to have a high level of job security. Some of them participate in exams for the lowest-ranking positions that do not require an academic degree.

Now that a doctorate has been devalued in the job market, Ph.D. holders must swallow their pride and get a job first before thinking about getting a better job.

Besides, who says that Ph.D. holders cannot make a living as manual laborers? As long as they are willing to do it, the public should praise them rather than weighing them down with more pressure. (Oct. 6, 2012)

(By Jamie Wang)