The Taipei Times
The government is willing to consider changing the two-year work experience requirement for foreigners doing white-collar jobs, an official at the policy-making Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said yesterday.
Read More: Changes to work visas considered
This is a ludicrous statement. However, it is not the first time I’ve heard it.
The government still holds free summer camps for overseas Chinese students to experience Taiwan in the hopes that they will go back home and say nice things about Taiwan. The government holds up Shitda’s Mandarin Training Center as a propaganda tool as well.
Since these kinds of visitors to Tawian do not really have to make a living over an extended period of time (getting paid according to contract, getting a phone account, getting a driver’s license, getting screwed by a landlord, etc.), perhaps these kinds of venues do have a positive impact on Taiwan’s image.
However, take the average white collar worker. They may like Taiwan overall and call it their home … But don’t think they won’t tell you in a moment how Taiwan really is. I know very few white collar workers that would ever identify themselves as “amabassadors of Taiwan”. In fact, many would suggest to overseas companies that they’d be better off setting up regional offices in more progressive places like Singapore, Hong Kong or even Shanghai.
The reason? Taiwan does very little to protect the foreign white collar worker from abuse/discrimination from landlords, bosses, retailers and EVEN government agencies themselves.
So what is really going on here?
When I first read this article, I thought “Wow, Taiwan is finally waking up”. Then I read between the lines.
Taiwanese, in the end, are not willing to pay money for their image. Like in all regards of life, Taiwanese are trapped in downward spiral of low costs that can only be supported by lower costs. There isn’t much more to it. The Taiwanese business model is all about low cost, nothing more, nothing less.
The ECCT probably sees these benefits of the “intern visa”:
- Ability to get cheap foreign labor.
- Ability to get disposable foreign labor.
- Ability to discourage long-timer white collar workers.
The main point, however, is number two, “disposable”. Taiwan likes the idea of the revolving door foreigner. “Come here, leave your money, leave your technology, now get out!” If succcesful, the ECCT could make interning in Taiwan similar to a summer camp, where the foreigner doesn’t stay long enough to really “get to know the country”. Taiwanese know themselves that Taiwan is really a screwed up place in Asia. They would prefer not to have long-timers here who will find that out.
Lastly, flooding the market with “interns” who are willing to work for peanuts will increase downward competition for jobs. Experienced white collar workers here for the long-haul might find it increasingly difficult to find work.
Talent isn’t welcome. It never has been. The average Taiwanese tech company hires based on the fact that you can make at least a few grunts in English. The Taiwanese have a sort of “one size fits all” approach when it comes to hiring foriegners. The fact that you have an MBA and tons of expereicne is actually a curse. Taiwanese fear you if you have talent. They don’t need talent. They just need low cost.
Actually, Mr. Ho failed economics. Try, “more salary draws more talent”. In any case, the whole idea of interns is to bring down the salary, so … so … I don’t see how this idea is going to attract more talent.
And nice try, bringing up Sinagpore. Singapore no longer competes soley on the principle of low cost anymore. They can differentiate their products in many ways that demands the need for talent. In Taiwan’s case, low cost inherently lacks a need to attract talent.