Creating a safe working environment, actively protecting labor rights, assisting both employees and employers so that everyone enjoys a win-win situation; all these are targets that the city government have been working towards. After three years, it is believed that many of us are able to notice the difference between Taichung of the past and Taichung of the present.
Taichung city is a densely populated area of central Taiwan. The way Taichung is situated geographically makes traffic very convenient, thereby attracting large numbers of consumers, stimulating the development of service industries as well as bringing in more investment incentives from various industries, commercial developments and retailers.
With Taichung city's current population of over 1,020,000 people, there are over 430,000 of them who have jobs, which means that approximately 43% of the population is currently under employment. Amongst the population who are under employment, most of them are aged between 25 and 44 years of age, and this age group takes up 64.39% of the employed population, compared to the national statistics of 59.13%, it shows that Taichung city's working population is the youngest in the country.
Increasing the Employment Rate, Decreasing the Unemployment Rate
Taichung's largest employment market is most probably the rapidly developing Central Science and Technology Park Zone. When the first premises of AU Optical and Electronics began its construction in 2003 in the Central Science and Technology Park Zone, it was expected that the first and second stages of the park zone would complete its construction within five years' time, the deadline being June 2005. 68 companies have already been approved to set up their factories there, with an investment total of over NT$7665 hundred million.
In order for companies that have set up factories in the area to find suitable employees, the city government has been making use of all its resources. Mayor Jason Hu not only brought in a lot of companies to invest in this area through his own personal effort, he also made sure that the Bureau of Labor Affairs organized “employment training classes” geared towards biotechnology, nano-technology, optical electronics and other industries, so that much needed talents in these fields would be made available to companies.
The city government has been in touch with many companies from the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park; many of them who are planning to set up plants in Taichung have expressed that they feel people from Taichung ought to take classes in Hsinchu, as setting up training courses at the National Chiao Tung University or the National Tsing Hua University would be more convenient. However, Mayor Hu hoped that classes could be conducted in Taichung, because it is a long and inconvenient trip to Hsinchu, and it is possible that in the end perhaps not that many number of people would bother to attend classes in Hsinchu.Eventually, the city government did get companies in Taichung to organize related courses at various institutes in Taichung, and began training people. This not only provided companies in the Taichung Science and Industrial Park with the labor they require, it would also allow this group of trained professionals to become the force behind the new Taichung Science and Industrial Park.
The Labor Bureau also worked with the Industrial Development and Investment Promotion Committee of Taichung City, with the concept of providing an all round service, they have assisted AU Optical and Electronics, Promos Technology, Corning and other companies that are moving into Taichung to organize several recruitment fairs.
Take 2004 as an example, the city government organized a total of 11 of these recruitment fairs that provided over 1,600 job opportunities and brought interview opportunities to over 6,524 people. According to post recruitment fair follow-ups, 812 people successfully gained employment at the Taichung Science and Technology Park.
In 2003 and 2004, the city government organized seven large combined recruitment fairs. In 2003, 290 companies had 14,350 vacancies, and 43,530 people came as prospective candidates for these jobs, and over 20,000 people were a match at the initial stage. In 2004, 159 companies had 11,773 vacancies, and 36,360 people came as prospective candidates for these jobs, and over 8,968 people were a match at the initial stage. Under the continued efforts of the city government, employment rates in central Taiwan continued to rise, and this helped speed up economic development in central Taiwan as well.
As for unemployment rates, Taichung city's statistics were rated at the top several times since the third season of 2002, the number being around 5.7%. Through the efforts of the city government and related departments at creating more job opportunities, the number was down to 4.7% in the fourth season of 2004, dropping significantly from number one to number eight. This demonstrates that Taichung city's unemployment rate is gradually reducing, implying that the city government's policies are effective.
Protecting the Less Advantaged The Labor Bureau not only tries to balance the working population and the market's needs, they also try to provide employment, training opportunities, home settlements, subsidies, home care and other services for middle aged people, women, aboriginal people and other less advantaged people.
The Labor Bureau has been pushing special employment policies for the middle-aged group. By combining government and civil resources, job opportunities are specially created and middle-aged unemployed people are given priority to these. Other activities such as visits to quality factories, recruitment fairs, employer's discussion sessions, information services on starting up businesses all help towards creating job opportunities for middle-aged people.
With regards to policies to help women re-enter the workforce, the most urgent issue is to help relieve women’s pressure within the household. On one hand, the Labor Bureau tries to make sure that needy families (especially double income families) are able to rapidly and effectively find professional housekeepers to help with their household chores, by providing them with housework relief support, thereby keeping their homes clean and tidy, as well as giving women who are interested in housekeeping work to have a chance to re-enter the workforce.
With regards to policies to help physically and mentally challenged people enter the workforce, the city government has been promoting training courses for them, establishing competitive, supportive and protective employment services for this sector of the city's population. Since 2002, the Labor Bureau has been employing or subsidizing groups and institutes that work with less advantaged people to help organize employment training courses and employment opportunity services. Up till now, over 30 different courses on baking, AutoCAD computer assisted drawing, cleaning services training, organic vegetable cultivation and others have been held, training a total number of 372 people who have subsequently joined the workforce.
The massage industry has always been a good source of income for the sight challenged. In order to increase their work opportunities and their income level, the city government has been working with several larger hospitals and government departments in the last three years, establishing "massage stations" at six different locations, such as the Taichung Hospital, the Veteran's General Hospital Taichung, Lin Shin Hospital, China Medical University Hospital, North District Office, West District Office and others, employing 21 sight challenged people in total.
With regards to policies to help aboriginal people gain employment, the city government has been strengthening efforts to help junior high school aboriginal students gain career guidance counseling, helping those who are not furthering their studies to establish correct employment concepts and teach them knowledge on not becoming victims of employment scams. On the other hand, the city government is also actively increasing employment training programs, employment guidance counseling and life coaching services for aboriginal people, in order to help unemployed aboriginal people return to the workforce smoothly.
Promoting Policies That Take Care of Both Employers and Employees
The city government aims to help people find work, help the workforce understand their rights and establish communication tools for employers and employees to lessen disputes, and the following policies have been put into place: 1. Establish harmonious working environments for both employers and employees.
2. Establish a system for the labor force to voice complaints.
3. Carry out warning announcements of possible company business closures.
4. Ensure that businesses prepare and put aside funds for employees' retirement fund.
5. Carry out policies that ensure payments towards the labor foundation fund.
6. Give involuntarily unemployed people a channel for complaints and provide them with subsidies.
7. Improve the environmental safety, health and hygiene of the labor force.
8. Ensure that protection policies of the workforce are enforced.
9. Carry out promotions that educate people on how to avoid employment scams.
Extending the Employment Field, Increasing CompetitivenessIn order for businesses to stay competitive, it is not only necessary for employers to take care of themselves, they must take care of their employees. As the saying goes, "Rather than letting them eat fish, it is better to teach them how to fish."
The Labor Bureau and employees themselves, have worked together with academic institutes and community colleges to provide employees with opportunities in further education, in the hopes of allowing workers to improves themselves and broaden their skills.
Without the help of the workforce, Taiwan would never have had its economic miracle. Now that our society is stepping towards high tech industries, it is also important to have this strong base of labor force to help work towards this new economic reform. Therefore, the city government has never neglected the workforce, always working for the rights of our labor force.