Taiwan is facing its worst ever "brain drain", with outdated laws and red tape causing the tech-savvy island to lose out to competitors in the global race to attract talent, academics warned Monday.
"Should the government fail to adopt effective countermeasures to recruit talent, Taiwan may see its competitive edge in industry and academe decline gradually," 18 top academics and industry leaders warned in a joint statement.
There is not enough flexibility to ensure the luring of talent and the nurturing of creativity, they said, with one scholar labelling present laws as only "fit for an agricultural society".
"It is no wonder Taiwan's educational and research institutes have failed to recruit qualified personnel," the statement said.
"They are barred from paying as much as their counterparts in China, including Hong Kong, and Singapore in their hunt for talent."
Wang San-sen, spokesman for top academic body Academia Sinica, said existing laws give priority to equality, meaning people recruited for government-sponsored research receive the same salary, whether they are talented or not.
Over the past decade, about 490,000 foreigners have been allowed to work in Taiwan each year. White-collar workers and technicians have accounted for only 20,000 of these, government statistics showed.
During the same period of time, up to 30,000 Taiwanese, a great majority of them white-collar workers, have emigrated each year.
"Taiwan has emerged as a 'net supplier' of high-level manpower," the statement said.
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