Improving national competitiveness by recruiting and retaining foreign talent

  • Date: 2016-09-12

I. Background

In its quest to foster the high-quality work force that is the key to national competitiveness in today’s globalized knowledge economy, Taiwan has long faced a two-pronged challenge: strong competition for foreign talent, and a domestic brain drain. To address these challenges, on September 8, 2015 the government approved the “Contact Taiwan Program” to increase overall national competitiveness. Designed to strengthen global recruitment, enhance the ability to compete for talent, and create an accommodating environment to help retain that talent, the program kicked off Taiwan’s comprehensive global recruitment campaign.

To create that kind of environment, the National Development Council (NDC) conducted surveys to identify and analyze problems that foreign nationals face when they try to come to Taiwan, and the work and lifestyle issues they face after they arrive. The NDC then proposed a program called “Perfect Taiwan’s Environment for Retaining Talent” to improve living and working conditions for that talent, which the Cabinet approved on September 1, 2016.


II. Contact Taiwan: global recruitment for global competitiveness

A. Establish an integrated online-offline global talent recruitment service

The InvesTaiwan Service Center, incorporating the Contact Taiwan online platform, is the nation’s one-stop window for recruiting foreign talent. The online platform integrates the available online and offline services to link Taiwan’s efforts with foreign recruiting networks, and provide interactive job matching services that help foreign talent find jobs and start businesses in Taiwan as well as online consulting services to address their concerns regarding employment and lifestyles.

B. Assist key industries recruit talent

To support national industrial development strategies and respond to enterprise needs, the program helps recruitment efforts by high-value industries including information and communications technology, smart manufacturing, biomedicine and international banking. Through the resources of domestic industry associations and cooperative platforms in other countries, the program also recruits designated individuals and talent from selected groups in the target countries to spur innovation and upgrade Taiwan’s industrial sector.

C. Create a flexible salary system to support talent recruitment for academia, research institutes and enterprises

To improve Taiwan’s ability to compete for international talent, the program will establish a flexible salary system based on job performance reflecting international salary standards; create a graded-eligibility subsidy mechanism; and liberalize related laws and regulations. These measures will provide comprehensive support to enterprises and government-funded scientific research institutes to recruit and hire foreign talent for research and development in critical technologies and innovation.


III. Talent retention program: enhancing the overall environment

The NDC’s talent retention program consists of immediate, short-term, and medium and long-term reform strategies to address major issues including visas, employment, residency, finances, taxes, insurance and international lifestyles to create the kind of environment that will help retain talent and strengthen incentives for foreign talent to remain in Taiwan.

A. Immediate measures

1. Amend the Nationality Act so that high-level professionals who meet certain criteria and pass a review procedure no longer need to give up their original nationality and may be granted dual nationality.
2. Amend the Immigration Act to liberalize provisions that require a foreign national who obtains an Alien Permanent Residency Certificate (APRC) to reside in Taiwan for at least 183 days each year, as well as provisions regarding the residence requirements for the APRC holder’s spouse and minor children.

B. Short-term measures (to be completed within one year)

1. Reevaluate and streamline review procedures for documentation translated into Chinese for applications submitted by foreign nationals.
2. Add bilingual programs in national primary and secondary schools to resolve educational issues for the children of international personnel.
3. Liberalize provisions that require a foreign national to obtain permission to stay or reside in Taiwan for one year or longer before submitting application for a driver’s license, or the issuance of a license without testing.
4. Amend the Labor Pension Act to include foreign nationals who have obtained permanent residency in the labor pension system.
5. Recommend or designate banks to help resolve issues regarding credit cards for foreign nationals.
6. Use phonetic spellings that are consistent with international usage for road signs and signals and maps island-wide.
7. Liberalize the requirement that newborn children of foreign nationals must wait for six months before being covered by the national health insurance program.
8. Streamline visa, residence and work permit application procedures for foreign nationals.
C. Medium and long-term measures (to be completed within two to three years)

1. Issue internship visas to foreign university graduates.
2. Issue visas to high-level personnel seeking employment in Taiwan.
3. Issue visas to personnel of international enterprises seeking to invest in Taiwan.
4. Issue personalized employment passes to freelance artists to come to Taiwan.
5. Amend the Employment Service Act to allow foreign nationals to serve as skills training instructors.
6. Review ways to assist startups apply for loans.
7. Review ways to provide internationally competitive tax policies to attract talent to come to and stay in Taiwan.
8. Assess the possibility of making domestic educational expenses for the children of foreign nationals tax-deductible.
9. Assess ways to relax the requirement that foreign and overseas compatriot students, foreign employers, and the spouses and minor children of foreign employees with a fixed employer must reside in Taiwan for six months before enrolling in the national health insurance program.


IV. Conclusion

Because human talent is the cornerstone of both national and industrial development, the government has made attracting and retaining outstanding high-level foreign talent an important policy to spur domestic economic transformation and innovation, and thereby drive domestic employment. To accomplish these goals, the government is liberalizing regulations and proposing innovative measures in seven areas: visas, work, residency, finance, taxation, insurance and international living environment.

The government is also planning recruitment projects specifically targeting foreign talent to support the “five plus two” innovative industries plan, while actively creating an overall environment that will both attract and retain talent, enriching Taiwan’s human capital, improving national competitiveness and spurring sustainable economic development.