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Taiwan, US team up for talent cultivation and circulation

American Institute in Taipei

In the face of unprecedented challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on the importance of innovation, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday (June 12).

“Innovative solutions for contact tracing, smart resource allocation, and remote learning and working are crucial in the combat against COVID-19, and talent is the key to developing these solutions,” she explained at the launch for the Talent Circulation Alliance (TCA) white paper.

Founded in 2019, the TCA is a public-private partnership between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taiwan authorities, which facilitates the circulation of talent between Taiwan, the United States, and other like-minded countries. To be published annually, the white paper provides recommendations on how Taiwan can improve its policies to become an “international talent hub.”

Tsai first underscored two main aspects in talent cultivation: improving English proficiency and digital skills. To turn Taiwan into a “bilingual nation” by 2030, the government has been helping universities set up English education centers and encouraging public service workers to speak English at work.

“Improvements made in these areas will allow Taiwanese talent to stand out in the globalized era,” Tsai said.

As tech giants like Microsoft come to Taiwan to set up R&D centers, the President said the government is engaging international companies in the cultivation of local talent.

AIT Director William Brent Christensen
American Institute in Taipei

Taiwan also seeks to continue helping young Taiwanese to study or work abroad and return to their home country with new skill sets.

“Many of Taiwan’s most successful leaders in industry, government, academia and civil society first gained experience abroad, primarily the United States, and then returned to Taiwan to make a positive difference,” said AIT Director William Christensen. Examples include TSMC Founder Morris Chang, who spoke at last year’s Talent Circulation Summit.

The TCA aims to help replicate Taiwan’s economic success story in the digital age by bringing in expertise from the US and other democratic countries.

“Taiwan has few natural resources, but it has an abundance of talented people,” the TCA white paper writes. “If the people of Taiwan are equipped with the necessary skills and then connected to the world, Taiwan will naturally succeed and be able to chart its own future for decades to come.”

The inaugural white paper offers five key suggestions for the nation to transform into a hub for global talent: develop a national strategy for talent circulation, facilitate international academic exchange, leverage foreign talent already in Taiwan, encourage the free circulation of startup talent, and increase the participation of women in Taiwan’s professional life.

Besides internationalizing Taiwan’s talent for the digital era, President Tsai also recognizes the importance of attracting talent from other parts of the world to stimulate creativity and innovation.

“Since 2018, we have also issued more than 720 Employment Gold Cards to top talent around the world, and in the future, we will loosen restrictions and incentivize local companies to hire foreign nationals,” she said.

With the National Development Council’s efforts, Tsai expects Taiwan to build stronger relationship with the US in talent circulation.

In the long run, the circulation of talent with like-minded countries may help grow Taiwan's talent and prevent a brain drain. “If Taiwan’s top talent is deeply connected with the free and open Indo-Pacific, then its future will likewise remain centered in the democratic world,” said Director Christensen.

The AIT believes having sufficient talent is a prerequisite for accomplishing all of Taiwan’s policy goals, and learning how to cultivate and manage them will help solve virtually all the other challenges Taiwan faces.


Bryan Chou

Bryan Chou is a Taiwan-based and born journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship for Business Next and Meet. Over the past five years, he has written for a student press, translated numerous magazine pieces, and worked as an intern in two startups. He believes what shapes him into who he is today is not only these experiences but the people he has interacted with and the stories he has learned from them.

He has a BA in Foreign languages and literatures from NTU. After graduation, he spent a year in Prague, traveling extensively around Europe to learn about the history and culture of the region from local people. Currently based in Taipei, he hopes to present the best of Taiwan to the world.