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By Ethan How (A Malaysian working in international trade in Taiwan)

First of all, as a foreign student who stayed to work in Taiwan as a white-collar worker because of the Qualifications and Criteria Standards for Foreigners Undertaking the Jobs in Taiwan, I have to give a big thanks to the R.O.C. government. Due to its decision to loosen up the restrictions for overseas Chinese and international graduates, I have had another option for my life in which I can stay in Taiwan and experience other sides of this country. However, as a beneficiary of this policy, I also have some concerns about the restrictions loosened up by the Ministry of Labor regarding white-collar, blue-collar, overseas Chinese and International graduates and foreigners working in Taiwan.

The current law regulates foreign students who wish to stay and work in Taiwan to score 70 points in the Qualifications and Criteria Standards for Foreigners Undertaking the Jobs in Taiwan. Compared to the old policy in which applicants require two years of working experience and a NT$ 48,000 (approximately US$ 1,460) monthly salary, it is easier now and most people can qualify. I think the government needs to make a long-term plan about the deleted revenue and capital in the new policy.

According to the current policy, a company needs to have an annual revenue of ten million if it wants to hire foreign graduates. To my knowledge, this is not difficult for an international trading company. If a company can’t reach this number, I doubt if it really needs to hire white-collar talents.

For some industries, like photography, if it’s more difficult for them to reach the annual revenue of ten million, I think the government should be more concerned with their received awards or other specialties, instead of eliminating their revenue and capital. This can help the students find jobs in larger companies and also be more ensured.

I have also noticed that the scoring system also applies to students of overseas youth vocational training schools and high schools. As far as I know, graduating from an overseas vocational training school is not the same as holding a Taiwan college diploma. It seems to be a grade lower. There is a current excess of college graduates in Taiwan and will Chinese overseas students competing with locals in the job market create another social issue?

Taiwan is also going through a wave of low birthrate. More unqualified universities and colleges will be eliminated in the future. If these schools start recruiting foreign students and promote “working in Taiwan after graduation," along with loosening of working rights, some people might chose to study at these schools. But if these students start working in Taiwan without having enough competitiveness, then it might be another issue.

Furthermore, the presidential election will be held on January 16 next year. Due to the close timing and unstable situation, while we can’t be sure whether President Ma’s policy will be extended or replaced, is hastily changing the Qualifications and Criteria Standards for Foreigners Undertaking the Jobs in Taiwan that necessary now? I believe it is worth having more discussions and research. Moreover, do all Taiwanese people understand the real meaning behind the government amending the policy?

This issue will easily turn into “foreigners taking away the jobs of Taiwanese and making them unemployed" if it isn’t continuously explained and discussed. Not only will problems increase, the series of social instability the approval of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement gave rise to last year will recur. During my time working in Taiwan, it’s obvious many Taiwanese don’t understand my identity. Some have even asked if I can vote. These are all things the government needs to communicate more with the public to help them understand.

I also pay close attention to the economic status of Taiwan. I noticed that it is kind of in distress now, especially in the LCD manufacturing and electronic industries. Lots of people in these two industries are on unpaid leave now. Economic Daily recently reported that cyclical unemployment has been increasing dramatically. With the present situation, if too much labor force rushes into the market, but only for lower class or low-technical jobs, then I believe this wasn’t the initial purpose of amending the policy.

I agree that loosening the restrictions on foreign white-collar talents that can produce more incentives to help these people and I agree that they contribute to the society in Taiwan. But how to enforce related policies is a great challenge. If those who stay and work in Taiwan apply to jobs like convenience store clerks and waiters, how will the government tackle this problem? We need professionals to motivate the whole society to progress, and emphasizing on industry transformation is the best way to go. We should not create a gap because of this and make the society even more conflicted.

Translated by Zoe Lo
Edited by Olivia Yang