Taiwan brain drain reaches 1 million

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan stock market has reached new highs despite the recent increase in minimum wages. The unemployment rate in March was just 3.68 percent, the second lowest rate in March over the past 19 years.

Contrary to all expectations, many employees have chosen to work overseas though.

Recent government statistics show that the number of overseas workers in 2017 totaled up to 736,000 people.

According to a local job bank, however, the actual number is likely 1 million overseas workers.

The difference lies in the ambiguous definitions of overseas-based workers and business travelers.

It is actually difficult for authorities to know the actual number of people working abroad, a human resource manager said, adding that government statistics are usually “conservative.”

In order to retain talents, Taiwan needs to address a combination of factors, including low salaries and a poor environment for investments, experts said.

At the same time, foreign corporations are trying to attract Taiwan youth with better prospects, career opportunities, and more importantly, higher salaries.

Still, the Tsai administration hopes that companies will return to Taiwan, meaning that the U.S.-China trade war could help boost the local job market.

According to statistics released by the government (Executive Yuan), up to 55 percent of Taiwan young graduates, or 0.4 million people, work in China, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and Suzhou, while another 14.8 percent work in Southeast Asia.

The U.S. is the third popular destination for Taiwan people.

Still, authorities believe that it is hard to give an exact number of overseas workers from the current database, yet many experts have expected 1 million people in total.

According to a survey conducted by 104 Job Bank, workers in China make about 1.72 times as much as their Taiwan counterparts on average.

For example, a senior manager makes between NT$3.6 million and NT$4.5 million yearly on average in China, while others in similar roles hardly make NT$2 million if they choose to stay in Taiwan.