New Southbound Policy develops talent for mutual benefit

  • Date: 2017-03-21

I. Background

Southeast Asia is a major source of new immigrants and foreign students in Taiwan. After graduation, many of these foreign students, who speak their native languages and have experience in Taiwan, return to their home countries and take up key positions in Taiwanese companies abroad. Involved in various trades and professions throughout Southeast Asia, they are influential in local affairs and can become pioneers in promoting the Taiwan government’s New Southbound Policy.

For many years Taiwanese businesspeople operating in Southeast Asian countries have helped the Taiwan government expand economic, trade and diplomatic relations while promoting international cooperation and cultural and educational exchanges. And by empowering the many Taiwan immigrants from Southeast Asia and their children who have language skills, cultural knowledge and personal contacts from multiple countries, they, too, can play a dynamic role in Taiwan’s southbound campaign.

The economies of Southeast Asian nations have developed rapidly over the past few years, so many countries have made a concerted effort to grab a piece of their domestic markets. So given the advantages mentioned above and Taiwan’s geographic proximity, the current administration is proactively promoting its New Southbound Policy to forge wide-ranging, mutually beneficial relationships with the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), six South Asian countries, New Zealand and Australia.

Because human talent is the key to New Southbound Policy success, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has formulated a New Southbound Talent Development Program (2017-2020) based on that policy’s overall guidelines and the New Southbound Policy Promotion Plan. Using a dual strategy to develop talent for both the short and long term, the MOE’s development program will help Taiwan’s colleges and universities pursue substantive educational exchanges in ASEAN and South Asian countries while increasing bilateral interaction and participation in academic alliances. These initiatives will help realize the government’s vision for mutually beneficial cooperation that will cultivate talent and spur regional economic development.


II. Three main strategies

Educational efforts under the New Southbound Policy will be people-oriented, and encourage two-way exchanges and resource sharing. In addition to optimizing existing policies and initiatives, the MOE has adopted three main strategies:


A. Provide high-quality educational opportunities in Taiwan and facilitate two-way cooperation to cultivate professional talent:

1. Equip the children of new immigrants with Southeast Asian language skills and workplace experiences:

When the 12-year national educational curriculum is implemented in 2018, the children of immigrant parents from seven Southeast Asian countries and other interested students will be offered courses in the native languages of those countries. The government will also provide subsidies to encourage those children to return to their parents’ home countries during summer vacations to gain work experience and enhance their understanding of the local language and culture. It will also subsidize technical colleges and universities to conduct credit-granting programs on Southeast Asian languages and industries, admitting second-generation immigrants on a priority basis.

2. Familiarize Taiwanese teachers and students with Southeast Asian languages and cultures:

The government will set up regional economic, trade and cultural centers and industry-academia resource centers for major ASEAN and South Asian countries. Subsidies will be provided to 500 university students in 2017 to pursue internship or training positions in New Southbound Policy target countries in business management and social sciences, engineering, medicine, agriculture, as well as education and the humanities. Technical colleges and universities will also receive subsidies to conduct Southeast Asian language-related courses enrolling 400 students in 2017.

The government also launched a four-year program in 2016 to subsidize 165 students and 20 teachers selected by 17 teacher training institutions to attend educational practicum and training courses in the target countries at the secondary, elementary and kindergarten levels to enhance future teachers’ understanding of the cultural background of new immigrant students. Students at teacher training institutions are encouraged to take faculty positions in the target countries to publicize Taiwan’s educational culture, help the international community understand Taiwan, and attract outstanding foreign students to Taiwan for education and career opportunities.

3. Cultivate the professional, practical and Mandarin language capabilities of students in ASEAN and South Asian countries:

To attract ASEAN students and teachers to Taiwan for studies or training, the development plan includes subsidies for colleges and universities of technology to provide customized courses and industry internships in nursing, cross-border e-commerce, and film and television broadcasting—including two-year and five-year associate degree programs, two-year and four-year bachelor degree programs and short-term training programs.

The plan will also strengthen personnel exchanges with ASEAN countries and address educational needs in the target countries. This includes subsidizing 35 domestic universities to conduct pre-entry classes offering language and foundation courses, subsidizing 2,000 ASEAN students to attend summer school in Taiwan, and integrating domestic and foreign colleges and universities through digital learning platforms to promote digital courses in areas that Taiwan has advanced capabilities.


B. Expand bilateral talent exchanges:

1. Expand advanced studies and training programs for outstanding students from ASEAN and South Asia:

Integrate the Taiwan Scholarship, the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship, the Southern Sunshine Scholarship and bilateral official scholarships to attract outstanding students for advanced studies or professional training in Taiwan, and help match them with employers after graduation. Subsidize 100 ASEAN and South Asian university lecturers each year from 2017 to 2019 for master’s and doctoral degree programs in Taiwan.

Significantly increase scholarships for top overseas Chinese students in Taiwan, and subsidize colleges and universities to set up graduate school scholarships for such students. In 2017, add 700 educational grants for disadvantaged overseas Chinese students from the target countries. Expand Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC)-sponsored technical and vocational education programs for overseas Chinese students (including at three-year vocational high schools and four-year technical universities) by recruiting approximately 1,500 students in 2017, significantly more than the previous year.

The Overseas Youth Vocational Training School was expanded to offer a more diversified curriculum, with a record 1,349 people enrolling in 2017. An OCAC-sponsored job fair was held in March 2017 to match Taiwan businesses to overseas Chinese from Southeast Asia, attracting almost 100 companies with more than 1,000 job vacancies and over 7,000 attendees; another fair will be held in April in northern Taiwan.

2. Encourage domestic students to gain experience in ASEAN and South Asian countries:

To develop professional personnel with ASEAN-related expertise, add Southeast Asian studies to the 2016 qualification examination for government-sponsored overseas study programs, and send 10 scholarship recipients to 10 ASEAN countries and India for master’s and doctoral degrees. Add 200 more internship positions in industrial enterprises of the target countries. Subsidize 120 young people to study and gain international experience in the target countries. Conduct exchanges with the target countries regarding innovative entrepreneurship to boost bilateral interaction between young people.

3. Promote sports exchanges with New Southbound Policy target countries:

Strategies include expanding bilateral sports exchanges, encouraging new immigrants and foreign workers to participate in Taiwan’s most popular sports, and expanding exchange channels for leaders in sports fields. Specific measures include participating in competitions, training athletes and conducting pre-event inspections, and holding invitational sports competitions, sports exchanges and training activities of all types.


C. Expand bilateral cooperative educational platforms:

1. Set up a strategy planning task force to cultivate talent for the target countries:

New Southbound Talent Development Program strategy reports have been completed to cultivate personnel for education cooperation with 12 countries—India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

2. Create two-way connectivity platforms and alliances in selected academic disciplines:

Since May 2017, “Taiwan Connection” bilateral exchange platforms have been set up in 10 locations in eight countries—the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and India. The government will also encourage domestic colleges and universities, based on their respective fields of expertise, to reach out to Southeast Asian countries and spur international academic exchanges that will help bring Taiwan’s developmental advantages to those countries.

3. Promote museum-based popular science education platforms:

Select four special exhibitions to send to universities or museums in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.


III. Goals for 2017-2020

A. Between 2017 and 2020, grow the number of students from New Southbound Policy target countries pursuing education or training in Taiwan by 20 percent each year.

B. In the 2019 academic year, have 58,000 students from the target countries pursuing education or training in Taiwan.


IV. Conclusion

The MOE has budgeted NT$1 billion (US$32.36 million) to promote New Southbound Policy educational programs in 2017. Giving equal weight to quantity and quality, the government will take a pragmatic approach to determining the personnel and industrial development needs of the target countries, and then deploy the requisite domestic educational and academic resources to address those needs.

The concerted efforts of Taiwan’s government agencies, tertiary education institutions, and elementary and secondary schools will promote the development of complementary capabilities and sharing of personnel resources with partnering countries. This will help give young people cross-border academic and career development opportunities, and expand the pool of quality human resources for industry while promoting mutually beneficial educational collaborations and regional economic development.