Taiwan mulls loosening labor rules to allow more foreign IT graduates

Country facing labor shortage in IT industry amid low birth rates

(Getty Images photo)

(Getty Images photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is considering relaxing its rules for foreign graduates to work in the country as it seeks to address the talent shortage caused by its low birth rate.

Taiwan’s tertiary education institutions have seen a staggering 21.9 percent drop in the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students over the past decade as vocational colleges enroll more students in tourism and design departments than IT-related ones. A report by the National Development Council (NDC) on industry trends for 2019-2021 cautions that the lack of STEM talent poses a threat to the development of Taiwan’s key industries, wrote Storm Media.

Taiwan's STEM talent woes threaten to dull its competitive edge as global tech giants increase their presence in the country and amid the advent of the era of 5G and AI. Meanwhile, the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration is pushing for a semiconductor sector advancement initiative that requires an injection of professionals into the labor force.

Businesses have complained for some time about regulatory restrictions on hiring skilled foreign labor. Currently, foreign graduates are required to have two years of related work experience to be eligible for recruitment by local firms.

In light of this, the Cabinet is mulling an amendment to the regulations governing the hiring of foreign professionals. The changes will waive the work experience requirement for foreign graduates from the world's top 500 universities who plan to pursue a career in Taiwan, according to Storm Media.

The Cabinet is also looking into the possibility of allowing STEM students to work in Taiwan on two-year internships. According to the NDC, 136,000 STEM jobs are expected to open in Taiwan each year, but local universities can only produce 97,000 graduates in relevant fields.

Microsoft on Monday (Oct. 26) announced its largest investment plan in Taiwan in 31 years, estimated to bring 30,000 job opportunities. Last month, Google confirmed it plans to establish a third data center in the country as part of its “Smart Taiwan” initiative.

Updated : 2020-12-02 00:09 GMT+08:00