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Taiwan launches immigration forum to discuss foreign talent hunt

Taiwan launches immigration forum to discuss foreign talent huntAcknowledging the need to attract foreign talent in order to bolster Taiwan’s overall competitiveness in the midst of rapid globalization, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) organized an international symposium on Nov. 16 to review its policy options. At the event entitled “The 2012 International Conference on Immigration Policy,” Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan explained that such policy exchanges will help shape the nation’s immigration programs to become more in line with international trends.

Taiwan to ease immigration rules for skilled foreign labor

Human resource experts from Singapore, South Korea, Canada, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan gathered at the Taipei Garden Hotel on Nov. 16 to attend “The

2012 International Conference on Immigration Policy.” As the event organizer, the NIA gave the forum the tagline of “Global Race for Talent” to reflect the importance of pinpointing feasible plans for attracting foreign professionals from both the private and public sector.

According to Minister Lee, the government has been revising the nation’s immigration policies in recent years, streamlining regulations and lifting certain restrictions accordingly. From easing the constraints on entry and duration of stay to simplifying the job application process, the NIA has already taken considerable steps to make Taiwan more appealing for foreign workers. The need for an influx of fresh manpower is clear – brain drain, coupled with the nation’s growing senior population and dwindling birth rate, is already endangering the economy. By studying foreign policies targeting skilled workers, professionals and holders of capital investment, or emulating well-structured programs that relocate enterprises and assist businesses in setting up branches overseas, Taiwanese officials hope to replicate their success.

The interior minister stressed that a policy change in terms of national immigration will require a shift in a variety of fields, notwithstanding its obvious impact upon the nation’s human resources, labor distribution and industrial transformation. To insure all sectors were to be properly represented at the international forum, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the National Science Council (NSC), the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) and the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) also sent delegates to meet with foreign immigration experts. Expats from American and Japanese business communities in Taiwan, members of local manufacturing enterprises and the representatives for several different Taiwanese business associations rounded up the group of conference attendees. Altogether, the gathering sparked lively dialogue and may pave the way for closer transnational cooperation in the future.

Employment passes, a Singaporean success story

James Hsu, director of the Singapore-based Fortune Technology Fund (FTF), explained that his government directly targets foreign professionals from the upper management level and business owners by offering a complete relocation package. Immigration policies devised by the Singapore Talent Recruitment (STAR) Committee such as the “Global Investment Program (GIP)” provide simple yet professional services that enable foreign investors and entrepreneurs to quickly establish their operations in Singapore.

The “Personalised Employment Pass (PEP),” a scheme managed by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, is another coordinated effort to attract top-tier individuals to relocate to the island nation. Issued based upon an evaluation of personal merits, the PEP refers to a type of premium work visa that offers four pay grades and a tailored social benefits package. The PEP differentiates from the GIP in that it is not linked to a specific employer while the latter is meant for business owners who wish to run their own business in Singapore.

According to FTF Director Hsu, Singapore has been a long-standing hub for foreign talents. Given its ethnic mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and British ancestral heritage, the country is historically comprised of highly skilled immigrants and overseas professionals. Hsu noted that his own family was no exception; after completing second grade in Taipei’s Municipal Dun Hua Primary School, he immigrated with his parents to Singapore in 1967. Hsu went on to receive a graduate degree in the United States and spent most of his working life among major Asian metropolises such as Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai. Reflecting on his extensive overseas experiences, the fund director concluded that Singapore remains a healthy business environment that continues to attract highly qualified individuals.

Korea’s second wave of foreign talent hunt

According to Shin Sang-hyup, a professor from Kyung Hee University’s Graduate School of Pan-Pacific International Studies in Seoul, the South Korean government plans to launch the second wave of a hunt for foreign talent between 2013 and 2017. The proposed solutions include HuNet Korea, an online visa application system and job bank for foreign professionals; this multi-functional digital infrastructure will enable the Korean government to keep track of visa renewals, entry/departure information and employment changes among its foreign workers.

Professor Shin also cited other services that make foreign talents feel welcomed in South Korea, such as the easing of rules for naturalization, the abolishment of a paper-and-pen test for citizenship and the shortening of application time for those who wish to gain permanent residency. Another reward-based scheme, Contact Korea, is geared towards recruiting top-performing students and foreign nationals for governmental positions.

Shin also named three immigration schemes launched by the South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) that would allow foreign talents to quickly gain permanent residency – namely the establishment of a Science-Business Belt Project for advanced research, the formation of the “Brain Return 500 Project” to absorb foreign academics and young scientists as well as an ongoing “Global Talent Recruitment Program.” Aside from the provision of high-ranking jobs and well-endowed research grants, it is the free Korean-language and culture classes for new immigrants that seal the deal for foreign talents who choose to bring their expertise to South Korea, Shin concluded.

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