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Mittwoch, Juni 18, 2008

Foreign workforce for Taiwan!

homepage teichert-online.de( ) , Formosablog(X), Techblog( )

Attracting foreign work force to Taiwan?

Judging from discussion going on in Taiwan’s expat discussion forum Forumosa.com, Taiwan seems to be interested in attracting more foreign white-collar workers. Probably Taiwan is concerned about losing gripe here compared with rising Mainland China. So allow me a few comments about the attractiveness of Taiwan for foreign office workers, scientist or whatever. I am not referring to the situation of English teachers here who are presently the majority of white-collar (well, T-shirt in this case) workers in Taiwan, because they will keep coming, no matter what.

foreign experts for Taiwan: expect difficulties before they find their way... (bridge in Taipei)

Live like a local?

Basically, the attractiveness of living in Taiwan depends on how far you can separate yourself from the living conditions of the average Taiwan office worker. I know this sounds strange, but consider the living quality of an average Taiwan person: He or she will live in a grey-box apartment block, often only 4 or 6 stories high, in one of the side streets which visitors of Taiwan’s capital Taipei often never get to see. It will look like a slum from the outside and often, cockroaches and dead rats are running about in a filthy smelly stair case. There will be no or hardly any sidewalk close to the building and what could be a sidewalk will be occupied by scooters or parked cars or street merchants, so the average Taiwan guy, if ever walking on his own two feet, will join the queue of cars in the street when walking, being honked at endlessly.

Fungus and noise…

The apartment will have a few small rooms, wall cancer (moisture, fungus) in the walls, will NOT have a heating (you would miss a heating in winter with a cold wind and 7 or 10 degrees outside), dogs would be barking 24/7 outside, scooters with broken exhaust pipes would be driving noisily outside on the streets even at night. You would hear neighbours jumping up and down and moving furniture as early as 5.30 am or as “late” as 1.00am in the apartment above you (wife says, magic requires shifting furniture sometimes and people here are more lively than at home). If new neighbours move in, they will not call the painters, they will call the construction workers to jackhammer away the walls down to the steel rods, which will make an insane noise for about 4 weeks, even on weekends.

English bridging the cultural gap (finally I found an excuse to post my bridge pix somewhere)

Survival in traffic

The average Taiwan citizen will go to work in the morning by scooter or car, spending a lot of time in an insane traffic, which is basically a combat of people without driving license (they don’t have a real driving license in Taiwan, they just test if people can park and move the car slowly in a special training area), driving intoxicated or LIKE being intoxicated.

See things growing on your skin!

In summer, air will be humid, hot and extremely polluted, causing skin diseases and circulation problems for some foreigners. I once had red circles everywhere on my skin. Gosh, that was exiting! And pretty itchy as well.

In office from 9 to 9…

The average Taiwan office worker will sit Monday to Friday and sometimes Saturday and occasionally Sundays in his cubical, working from 9 to 7 or from 9 to 9 or from 9 to 11 pm depending solely on the needs of his company. Bosses will be demanding and often (but not always) exercise micro-management. This means, they will tell you when you have to do what and exactly how. Give them suggestions how to improve something and you will be told to do … as you were told. Of course, changing the company several times might finally bring you in an environment where creativity is somewhat encouraged.

Vacation only for weaklings!

You do NOT have any paid vacation in the first year and can hardly take a day off. Second year should bring 7 days, may be only 3 paid vacation days if your company betrays you a bit. Third year and following should bring 10 days, but people may still be offended if you take 10 in a row, because an annual leave is here more like 3 work days plus weekend.

Health insurance is cheap (don’t get it quickly though)

You will have a cheap health insurance, but it will usually be denied to you within the first six month, even if against labour law, solely because you are a foreigner and may just want to get your health fixed here.

Keep slim! (we have low-calorie food and low wages)

60 NT buy a good lunch box, so the Taiwan office guy can live from his salary of 35 000 NT or maybe 65 000 (if senior engineer) or in few cases more (75000, 85000 for lower management positions). Rent may be as low as 18 000 NT per month, but if you as a foreigner ask for the price, rent will be double or more. Solely, because everyone knows foreigners are rich.

Of course, you should ask for a higher salary than the Taiwan guy who would normally do the job and may say your qualifications are higher and you can deal with overseas customers well. But as you will not be able to communicate with your office coworkers, even if they speak fluently English to Japanese customers (but NOT to you because they do not want to lose their face by speaking English to a European who can speak better English than them), you may find yourself be hired for one or two projects only where they need a foreigner “on display”. You will not have a limited work contract but be a normal employee for the time being, though. There are no work contracts anyway in Taiwan.

So why am I here? Hey, I didn’t talk about me. Things are super-smooth and cool for me, man! And I am married to a local.

So should you come? Hell, yeah! Sounds like paradise, right?

Well, in the parks Taipei is usually a zone of tranquility. Only in the early morning, a lot of people go there for a TaiChi or whatever workout, afterwards park is mostly empty.


Seriously, unless you are looking for a temporary adventure, you should see that you find a company from home to bring you here as their representative with high pay and then you live in one of these fancy foreigner place next to the National Palace Museum and wonder why I wrote about dead rats here. But this company of yours will be reducing their staff in Taiwan currently, probably already have closed their Taiwan branch and will offer you to go to Mainland China. So why did you read all this in the first place?

However, Taiwan is interesting if you plan on experiencing Chinese culture. In that case, xenophobic China may be a hassle, while foreigner-friendly Taiwan make living a little more comfortable, that's what a lot of people say who know both countries. English gets you along often, but not always in Taiwan and the Chinese culture of Taiwan is more genuine than the often redefined culture of China.

Foto: Ludigel (blog author)

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