Employers Turn to Middle Aged Workers as Taiwan’s Population Ags | Taiwan News

Taiwanese employers are increasingly turning to middle-aged and senior workers as the country ages rapidly, due to a shrinking population caused by a falling birth rate.

In 2020, Taiwan recorded negative population growth for the first time, with 173,156 deaths compared to 165,249 births, according to counts released by the Interior Ministry (MOI) in January.

By the end of last year, Taiwan’s population had fallen 0.18% to 23,561,236 after peaking at 23,773,876 in 2019, according to MOI statistics.

National data also revealed that the country registered a record 165,249 births in 2020, down 7.04% from the previous year. The number of deaths fell 1.78% to 173,156, exceeding the number of births by 7,907.

The trend has sounded alarm bells for a society already troubled by its declining workforce, with the government blaming the development on a low birth rate that continues to decline.

In 2020, Taiwan registered 8,409 births per 1,000 population, a decrease of 0.1% from 2019. In that year, the figure was 8.417 births per 1,000 population, a decrease of 0.09% per year. compared to 2018, when 8.425 births per 1,000 inhabitants were registered, which represented a 0.51% decrease compared to 2017.

Last year, the average number of children born to a Taiwanese woman during her lifetime was 1.05, the second lowest in the world after 0.92 for South Korea. That’s well below the 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain a stable population, and well below the world average of 2.42.

Taiwan is estimated to become a very old society by 2025, which means that one in five citizens will be 65 or older.

In response, the government began to focus on employing middle-aged workers, defined as those aged 45 to 64, and workers aged 65 and over.

Taiwan’s participation rate for the 45-64 age group is currently around 64 percent.

At the end of September 2020, there were around 4.8 million people in this age group, an increase of 910,000, or 23.3%, from a decade ago, according to the Directorate General of budget, accounting and statistics (DGBAS).

During the period January-August 2020, the participation rate in the country was on average 63.9% among middle-aged and senior workers, 76.4% among men and 52.1% among women, according to statistics from the DGBAS.

With a participation target of 65 percent, the government should encourage an additional 70,000 middle-aged and senior workers to join or re-enter the labor market.

The 45-49 age group in Taiwan has a work participation rate of 84.7%, similar to that of the United States, South Korea and Japan, but figures for groups of ages 50-54, 55-59 and 60-64 are significantly lower. that in these countries the DGBAS counts showed.

As Taiwan’s workforce has shrunk over the years, many companies have come to recognize the merits of middle-aged and senior workers and are increasingly willing to recruit more.

Tou Jung-yao (豆 榮耀), owner of Taipei-based Wonderful Seasons International Trading Co., Ltd., a long-time contractual partner with Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation, is responsible for dispatching staff to assist passengers with disabilities. to use wheelchair lifts via escalators when elevators are not operating at MRT stations.

The company previously hired young workers because the job requires care, patience, physical strength and professional skills, Tou said.

However, he said it often ended in disaster because young employees tended to be more emotional and impatient, which often resulted in complaints from passengers.

The company ultimately solved the problem by replacing the younger staff with older workers who were more skilled, sympathetic and willing to serve, he said.

The Tou company is currently hiring around ten workers, all of them middle or senior age.

Chang Jung-li (張榮利), director of human resources at Yonsoon Technology Corporation, a Chiayi-based polystyrene packaging company and service provider, told CNA the company is employing more aged staff medium and higher due to difficulties in recruiting young workers.

“We know how difficult it is to hire young workers and are fully aware of the severe labor shortage in Taiwan,” he said, noting that 15% of the more than 100 employees of the company are middle-aged and senior.

This is much more than the average of 2-3% in private sector companies in Taiwan.

Echoing Tou, Chang said older workers are more experienced, pragmatic and stable than their younger counterparts.

In an effort to keep middle-aged and senior workers, the company conducted an analysis which showed that when looking for a job or choosing to stay with a company, financial security and the need to take caring for their families are the most important factors for such employees, Chang said.

As a result, the company has rethought its tasks and assigns older workers to positions that best match their mental and physical qualities, he explained. In order to cope with the growing labor shortage, the government of Taiwan enacted the Law to Promote Employment of Middle-Aged and Senior Workers and related laws in December 2020. These introduce provisions to improve the rights of workers aged 45 and over in the workplace.

Key elements of the legislation include a ban on age discrimination against job seekers or older employees, as well as stronger incentives for companies that hire them over a period of time or hire them. a number of employees who have reached retirement age.

Based on the law, employers can use fixed-term contracts to hire workers aged 65 or over.

Janice J. Kostka