TAIPEI, Taiwan — Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu yesterday outlined a proposal emphasizing the need for government-business partnerships in creating relevant skillsets as a way to reduce the nation’s youth unemployment problem.
As a second part of her political platform emphasizing economic issues, Hung stated that youth unemployment was a reality that also corresponded with labor shortages faced by some high-tech and service industries. She proposed the formation of a “National Academy of Empowerment” to help young people find jobs by training to obtain skill sets that employers are looking for.
Citing a labor shortage of 240,000 and an unemployment rate of close to 13 percent for those aged 20-24, Hung placed the blame on the liberalization of higher education which she argues has inflated the number of degree holders without necessarily meeting industry demand for marketable skills.
The plan, “National Academy of Empowerment: Youth Assistance 4.0,” is a four-pronged approach hammered out by Hung’s campaign team and policy aides in response to the sputtering economy and youth discontent as trending campaign issues. Basing their ideas around experiences in Australia, the plan calls for the creation of a standardization of skills which are in demand by industrial and service sectors and the use of government institutional support and funding to put new job seekers or those currently unemployed through skills accreditation plans.
Under her plan, Hung proposed cooperation between the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and businesses in order to develop a systematic skill standard in the short term. She specifically named web, telecommunications and creative industries as having manpower shortages, and that a mechanism for establishing technical skills in informatics, cloud computing and software engineering needed to be established quickly.
In order to facilitate the increase in certifiable and industry required skills, the proposal calls for the distribution of “power vouchers” that will give young people “full-ride” access to training courses that will allow them to obtain certifications and job placements that will be guaranteed for a minimum NT$40,000 a month starting wage. Vouchers would be prioritized for those under 39 and unemployed for 13 weeks.
Hung proposes amending portions of the Employment Insurance Act (就業保險法) to fund the training and placement programs outlined in the Empowerment Plan. Specifically, it would entail increasing annual employment insurance premiums allocated for job training for both the employed and unemployed from the current 10 percent to 20 percent.