Premier Lai Ching-te today continued his week-long series of press conferences addressing investment barriers in Taiwan and the five major shortages affecting local industry, with a final conference to discuss the Executive Yuan's responsive policies and concrete measures for dealing with shortages of labor and talent.
To address the shortage of skilled talent, the government is proposing three principal policy directions: keeping Taiwanese workers at home, recruiting talent from abroad, and developing new skills and people. With the current unemployment rate at only 3.77 percent, the government also introduced three major policies to address the problems that general workforce shortages present for industrial investment and continued economic growth: The first is matching workers with unfilled positions and workforce development, the second is raising low wages and improving working conditions, while the third involves closer cooperation between business and schools, and closing the gap between the skills students learn and those employers require.
As for action to relieve the shortage of professional talent, Premier Lai said that the National Development Council (NDC) has developed seven major strategies to keep talent at home, attract talent from abroad, and nurture new talent in Taiwan. To create development opportunities for local young people and encourage more to stay in Taiwan, the NDC will rely principally on optimizing the tax system and creating new channels for companies to provide rewards and financial incentives. The premier thanked the Legislative Yuan in particular for the passage of recent revisions to the Statute for Industrial Innovation.
Building a friendly environment for innovative entrepreneurship where people can reach their full potential is just as important as providing tax incentives, explained the premier. The government is researching changes to the Company Act that would expand the range of employees eligible for equity awards (treasury shares, newly issued shares or stock options) to include employees of controlling and subsidiary companies, thus benefiting corporate operations and employee retention.
The targets of the government's plans to recruit talent include professional foreign nationals, Taiwanese professionals living abroad, and both foreign and Taiwanese-heritage exchange students at local academic institutions. Of tremendous benefit to this effort is the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals recently passed by the Legislative Yuan. The Contact Taiwan online career and investment platform will also be improved.
The Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Education are also continuing joint efforts to promote related strategies and policy objectives, including revisions to the Immigration Act, extending the length of time following graduation that foreign exchange students have to find local employment from six months to a full year, and relaxing rules governing the placement and training in Taiwan of foreign employees of multinationals. Other plans include creating a mutual talent exchange mechanism to complement the New Southbound Policy, easing capitalization and revenue thresholds on employing foreign specialists for companies within the "five plus two" innovative industries initiative, and establishing experimental bilingual curricula at public elementary, junior high and high schools.
As for plans to relieve the shortage of manpower in Taiwan's industries, the Executive Yuan has formulated three response strategies. The first is job matching and workforce development. As the economy grows, the need for manpower will increase as well, so the government will actively develop Taiwan's labor force and match people to jobs.
To help young people find their place in the workforce, the government already has many programs and projects in place. As for women, Taiwan's female labor participation rate is lower than those of other countries, and studies have shown that many Taiwanese women leave their jobs to raise children after marriage or care for elderly parents or family members. To address this issue, the government is promoting policies to help women balance work and family responsibilities and make it easier for women to return to work. For middle-aged and older workers, the government will formulate regulations and policies to increase this group's participation in the workplace. As to foreign workers, the government also has mechanisms to help businesses find the workers they need.
The Executive Yuan will face the industrial shortage problems honestly, formulate pragmatic policies, and resolve all issues in a steady manner, the premier vowed. The government will cooperate closely with businesses, but will also need businesses to support the government as it works to accelerate investments in Taiwan and boost the private-sector economy. Premier Lai also hopes businesses will share profits with their employees, particularly listed companies or multinational corporations, as raising starting salaries will encourage employees and give society greater confidence. He also encouraged companies to be more active in organizing or participating in personnel development projects.
The second strategy for the manpower shortage is higher salary levels and a friendly work environment. The Executive Yuan will expand R&D subsidies, offer business consultation services, and promote an industry professional assessment system, all of which will help businesses in improving technology and management capabilities, providing higher salaries, fulfilling corporate social responsibilities and executing plans. For "3D jobs" (dirty, dangerous and difficult) that face a severe hardships finding willing workers, the government will send advisory teams and offer funding to help companies improve these environments and make the jobs more appealing.
For the third strategy, promoting industry-academia cooperation and narrowing the education-employment gap, the government will survey industry needs for human resources and help schools recruit students for different fields of study accordingly. Schools will be allowed to recruit more students for industrial areas lacking skilled workers, in particular agricultural and industrial fields of study. In addition, the government will amend the Degree Conferral Law and ease regulations governing double majors to encourage students to develop interdisciplinary skills based on their interest and industry's needs.