Talk of the Day -- High turnover among young workers

The Taiwanese proverb "changing bosses 24 times a year" may no longer be just a joke. A biennial survey by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) on young people's employment situation has found that job turnover is very high among those aged between 15 and 29. Young workers remain with the same employer for an average of only 1.3 years, according to the survey. Low pay and grim career prospects are the main reasons behind the high turnover rate, the survey found. Meanwhile, data released by the Taiwan Stock Exchange showed that construction companies outperformed their counterparts in the technology and financial sectors in profit per employee. Chong Hong Construction Co. topped all listed companies in the category in 2012, with each of its employees earning an average of NT$116 million (US$3.87 million) for the company. Foxconn Technology Co., a Hon Hai Group subsidiary that produces metal casings, topped the list in the technology sector, with profit per employee of NT$30.02 million. The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the employment situation among young adults and profit per employee numbers for listed companies: United Daily News: The CLA has conducted a survey of young workers every two years since 2006 to better understand employment trends among people in the 15-29 age group. The latest survey collected nearly 4,000 valid samples. All respondents were employed, with 90 percent of them in full-time jobs. Three-quarters of them were in the 25-29 age bracket. The survey's respondents earned an average of NT$27,425 a month last year, down NT$1,931, or 6.6 percent, from the level recorded in 2006 when the CLA conducted the survey for the first time. During the six-year period, the country's consumer price index rose 9 percent as wages were on the decline. The latest survey found that the average seniority of respondents was 3.1 years, with each having had an average of 2.3 jobs. That translates to an average of 1.3 years with the same employer, the shortest span in any of the four surveys conducted to date. The average length of time respondents have been in their current jobs was 1.6 years, also the shortest ever in the poll. Moreover, 32 percent, or about one-third, of respondents, said they were planning to change jobs. Low pay and gloomy career prospects were the two reasons cited most for wanting to change jobs. A 25-year-old respondent surnamed Chen said he has changed jobs four times since entering the job market less than two years ago. He said he stayed with his first job for 11 months, earning NT$23,000 per month. He then took a job as a salesman for a month, with a salary of NT$22,000. He earned NT$29,000 a month in his third job, which he did for just three months. Hsin Ping-lung, a National Taiwan University associate professor, said low pay tends to inspire job changes. "The survey findings shed light on young adults' difficulties in securing an ideal job," Hsin said, noting that frequent job changes are closely related to low wages. In his view, upgrading local industries' added value and expanding their markets are key to improving wage levels. (April 6, 2013). Economic Daily News: Major listed companies in the construction industry registered high profit per employee numbers last year, which analysts attributed largely to the relatively small size of their staffs. Local construction conglomerates tend to set up a subsidiary for each of their construction projects or spin off their sales departments, leading to fewer employees at the parent companies. Based on profit per employee figures, employees of waste disposal and treatment company Cleanaway performed extremely well in 2012, with each employee earning NT$15.99 million for the company, according to Taiwan Stock Exchange data. The figure was triple that for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). Each of TSMC's 30,000 employees earned about NT$5 million for the company last year. (April 6, 2013). (By Sofia Wu)