Taiwan has a diverse economy, requiring a range of graduate skills. Foreign investment enterprises may require high-level, qualified executives to start or run a business. The recruitment of skilled and managerial staff at a middle management level remains a good opportunity for those with language skills and an understanding of relevant management techniques. Teaching English is also a good way for English-speaking graduates to find work in Taiwan. Opportunities may also be available in areas such as finance, engineering and sales.
Typical problems encountered: the local graduate workforce is highly skilled so there can be competition for many vacancies, particularly professional occupations. Opportunities for unskilled personnel may be more limited.
How to improve your chances: learning Mandarin or Taiwanese could increase the range of opportunities available and enhance competitiveness in the local employment market. Professional qualifications and work experience can also boost prospects.
Language requirements: the official language for communication is Mandarin Chinese but Taiwanese is also spoken extensively. Jobs teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) generally only require a high standard of English. The majority of other jobs require knowledge of Mandarin. There are many positions requiring professionals fluent in English but who can speak Mandarin at the business conversation level. For those wishing to learn or update their language skills, there are plenty of Mandarin language training centres in Taiwan, many affiliated with colleges and universities. A full list is available from the Ministry of Education, Taiwan.
Where can I work?
Major industries: IT and electronic products are especially prominent but other industries include: chemicals; biotechnology; petroleum refining; shipping; motor vehicles; iron and steel; machinery; cement; and food processing. Financial services such as venture capital management, insurance and banking are also very prominent. Other industries include furniture production, tools manufacture, office supplies, toys and domestic lighting products.
Recent growth areas: computing continues to be a major industry with a wide variety of related specialist technologies emerging. Other growth areas are telecommunications, medical equipment and pharmaceutical products. Small to medium enterprises play a very significant role in the economy and there is a strong tourist industry.
Industries in decline: some of the lower technology and more labour-intensive industries have moved off shore, for example to mainland China.
Shortage occupations: sales, technical trades, engineering and management.
Major companies: Anadigics Inc., China Airlines, China Steel Corporation, Hewlett Packard, HBSC, IBM, Sony and Taiwan Sugar Corporation.
Search for more companies:Kompass is a worldwide business directory searchable by country and product/service. Also see Taiwan Yellow Pages.
Major cities: Taipei (capital), Taichung (central) and Kaohsiung (in the south).
What's it like working in Taiwan?
Average working hours: many business practices are similar to those in the UK. For many organisations, the working week is Monday to Friday, with some employers open for business at weekends. Some offices open at 8.30am whereas others, such as some retailers, may start business hours from mid morning. An average working day of approximately 8.30am - 5.00pm is fairly common.
Holidays: holidays and major festivals are frequently based on the lunar year and so their dates are not fixed. Government holidays also exist and advance notification of dates can be obtained.
Tax rates: employees of multinational companies and government services can consult their employers for contributions advice. For foreign nationals working in Taiwan who need to submit tax returns separately, there are foreign taxpayer sections at tax offices throughout Taiwan, which can be contacted for advice on when and how to complete tax forms. For further information and a list of tax offices in Taiwan see the Taipei National Tax Administration.
Working practices and customs: working practices and customs vary due to the wide range of businesses, but western working practices are generally well understood and most aspects of workplace culture are similar to those found elsewhere, such as in Europe.
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