Saving for the future: new education and employment programs for young people

  • Date: 2016-11-08

I. Background

A nation’s overall economic growth depends on the employability of its young people. With Taiwan’s education system focusing more on academics than work-oriented training, young people often learn skills that are unrelated or not applicable to real-world situations.

President Tsai Ing-wen addressed this issue at a Ministry of Education (MOE) youth policy forum on September 4, 2016, saying that what’s lacking in Taiwan’s educational process is life experience. She then proposed that high school graduates should consider working and gaining experience in the broader society before starting college, which would allow them to learn more and faster when they do enroll.

According to statistics, most Taiwanese high school graduates choose to pursue formal higher education. In the 2012-2014 school years, an average 86.64 percent enrolled in further studies even though many said they were unsure of their life goals. To help young people explore and find their direction for the future, the MOE proposed an education and employment savings account program that encourages young people to gain experiences other than education—in the workplace, in real life or abroad.

Related program initiatives will offer career guidance for high school students, high-quality job opportunities, and experiential learning for young people so that they will be able to make better decisions about whether to pursue higher education, seek formal employment or start a business.

 

II. Career guidance for high school students

A. Begin career guidance at younger ages: Organize career exploration events at elementary and junior high school levels, offering vocational exploration courses, job trial opportunities and visits to companies.

B. Strengthen career counseling, encourage aptitude-based development: Provide career counseling for high school students and understand their future plans. Help high school graduates acquire work and life experience, and even overseas experience. Encourage aptitude-based development among young people, build their self-worth, and instill positive work values.

 

III. Key initiatives of the education and employment savings program

As part of the career guidance project, graduating high school students may choose to participate in either a project to help them acquire quality jobs and workplace experience, or an experiential learning project for life and international experiences:

A. Quality jobs for young people:

  1. In this project, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) gathers information on quality job opportunities from authorities in charge of designated enterprises and cultivates young people to become professionals in technical and artistic fields. A “quality job” must provide at minimum a safe working environment and favorable labor conditions, and should also offer potential for growth and better pay than the minimum wage as defined in the Labor Standards Act. These jobs come from the traditional arts industry, agriculture, cultural and creativity industries, manufacturing, commerce, and the government’s “five plus two” innovative industries (an Asian Silicon Valley, intelligent machinery, green energy technology, biomedicine, national defense and aerospace, new agriculture and the circular economy).

     

  2. Graduating high school students interested in this project must submit their own proposals and pass a qualification screening before they may open an education and employment savings account. The MOE and MOL will each deposit a monthly subsidy of NT$5,000 (US$159) into the account for up to three years so that students can learn a trade while saving up for future expenses for education, employment or a business startup.

     

B. Experiential learning for young people:

In this project, graduating high school students submit their own proposals for major travel experiences or domestic or overseas volunteer service. These experiences will help them expand their horizons and explore career options so they can decide whether to pursue higher education or enter the work force. Every year the government will select 120 students and help them implement their experiential learning proposal. Participants in this project may not receive subsidies in education or employment savings accounts.

C. Complementary measures for further education or military service issues:

  1. Further education: Qualified high school graduates may apply to technical colleges without having to sit for the Joint University Entrance Examination, and their work experiences may be included in the admission review. Those who apply to universities may list their work experiences or experiential learning among the admission review items.
     
  2. Military service: High school graduates who receive a conscription order before going abroad may, pursuant to Article 29 of the Conscription Regulations, be permitted by the Ministry of the Interior to postpone military service until the completion of their participation in this program. For those who receive a conscription order while overseas, the MOE will set up a platform for requesting postponement of military service.

     

IV. Conclusion

An investment in young people is an investment in the future. While the education and employment savings account program primarily aims to help students discover themselves, it also hopes to change the way society as a whole thinks about traditional education paths for the next generation. As high school graduates acquire work or overseas experience, they will have a better understanding of their own interests. Knowing more about the type of work skills they want to develop, young people will be more competitive overall as they continue on to higher education, join the workplace or start a business, armed with the courage to dream and embrace unlimited possibilities.