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Treasury & Capital Markets / TechTalk
Taiwan to open borders, lure foreign tech talent
Shift to Covid co-existence, visas allow foreigners to fill booming sector's vacancies
The Asset 16 May 2022

Taiwan is prepared to rejoin the global competition for talent this year as it shifts to co-existing with the Covid-19 pandemic and filling vacancies in the country’s booming technology sector.

Once lauded as a safe haven and refuge from the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan became increasingly isolated in late 2021 as strict prevention and quarantine methods protected the country from the Delta variant. However, since case counts began to spike in April due to the Omicron variant, Taiwan has firmly moved from its prevention model to one of co-existence.

The talent wars have already begun, with many talking up a “Great Migration” in the aftermath of the pandemic, driven by the tech boom and ever-increasing need for more electronic products.

Anchored by semiconductor manufacturing giant TSMC, five tech powerhouses in Taiwan recently announced job opportunities totalling 14,500 in the semiconductor and hardware manufacturing sector. Adding in software giants Google and Microsoft, who have recently set up data centres in Taiwan, along with their other business units, over 1,000 listings are shown on Linkedin.

However, with one of the world's lowest birth rates and an ageing population, Taiwan will not be able to fill these openings by itself, and so a significant portion must instead come from migrating overseas talent.

In an annual August survey, the National Development Council of Taiwan (NDC) noted that the general shortfall of employment in 2021 increased to 248,000, with a gap of 47,000 at the executive levels.

To address this shortfall, the NDC recently announced a recruitment initiative to attract 100,000 foreign talents to the island by 2030. NDC is also actively improving work and residency regulations, beginning with adjustments to the 2018 Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals, which features the Taiwan Employment Gold Card programme, a successful resident work visa offering for interested expats to Taiwan.

Qualifications for the Employment Gold Card have recently been relaxed, in particular the field of education which now accepts doctoral graduates from the top 500 universities around the world (according to QS World University Rankings). A ninth field of national defence was added to the other fields of economy, culture and arts, finance, science and technology, law, architecture, sports, and education.

Besides providing a flexible and open visa for up to three years, the Employment Gold Card also fast-tracks to permanent residency, with recent changes shortening the requirements from five years to three years. These changes have helped the Gold Card programme add 1,982 cards in 2021 alone, for a total of 4,248 in just four years.

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