Pinoy IT workers in Taiwan enjoy good pay, perks

By Patricia Esteves
TAIPEI – For Edward, a native of Cavite, coming to work here has been a good career move. A design engineer, Edward moved to Taiwan in 2006 to work in a research and development technology firm that manufactures and supplies power electronics for notebook PCs (personal computers).

Three years after taking the job, he is happy and pleased with his fat paycheck, perks and benefits. He could also come home to his family on special occasions, given the proximity of Taiwan to the Philippines. It only takes an hour and 50 minutes by plane from Manila.

Edward receives about P100,000 a month and gets the same benefits as a Taiwanese employee, including vacation and sick leaves. His boss gives him high-end technology, on-the-job training.

On top of that, for his daughter’s birthday, his boss allowed him to go on a one-week vacation to the Philippines.

“Job opportunities are good here, particularly in the IT industry. They like Filipinos because of the quality of their work. Pinoys here are industrious and dedicated and the good thing is, Taiwanese take note of that. They even promote Filipinos to top-ranking positions,” said Edward.

As the information technology industry continues to grow here with more investments from other countries coming in, expect more Filipinos like Edward to troop to Taiwan for good job opportunities.

Edward is just one of the 100,000 Filipinos now working in Taiwan, based on October 2008 statistics. Aside from IT and factory workers, Filipinos also work here as caregivers and domestic helpers.

Victor Te-Sun Yu, Taiwan’s director-general of the Department of East Asian and Pacific affairs, said IT companies would hire more Filipinos in the coming years.

Taiwan’s IT industry currently ranks the second most competitive in the world and continues to be the major supply chain center of the high-tech industry, dominating the global OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and ODM (original design manufacturer) market and IC (integrated circuit) foundry, packaging and testing business.

Notebook PCs, monitors and motherboards, a lot of IC and IT products and their key parts and components are also produced and manufactured in Taiwan.

Yu noted that IT companies continue to favor Filipinos for their skills, English-speaking abilities and good educational background.

“In our high-tech factories in the ICT or hardware, companies like Filipino workers because they are well-educated, have good educational background, and are English speaking. In fact, our factories, particularly our high-tech factories, find it cost-effective to train Filipinos because they are very knowledgeable. They read well industrial specifications and that’s why many of them are in high-tech factories,” Yu said.

Twenty-seven-year-old Aileen, a nursing aide to an elderly Taiwanese couple, said her salary as a caregiver is bigger than what she gets in the Philippines as a teacher. She earns about P22,000 and has been working here for three years.

Yu said they make sure Filipinos receive the same attractive salary packages and benefits that Taiwanese get.

“They also have health benefits and they are protected here,” he said.

Professionals and domestic helpers who want to work in Taiwan need not go through a broker or an agency, since Taiwanese companies hire them directly. For a first time IT worker, salary ranges from P49,000 to P70,000 while a domestic helper initially gets P15,000. Wages increase over time.

Smooth trade relations
Eric Chiang, deputy director general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade, said the Philippine and the Taiwanese governments continue to have smooth and flourishing trade relations.

“I would say that the general relationship between the Philippines and Taiwan is very close and attached. We would like to promote many bilateral memoranda of agreement and cooperation between our countries,” he added.

“We have a similar Free Trade Agreement, our industrial parks in the Philippines are very near airports and we have an important industrial park in Subic. The trade relations between both countries are very good,” Chiang said.

Chiang added that Taiwanese investor confidence in the Philippines continues to surge. There are currently 190 Taiwanese companies successfully operating in the Philippines’ special export processing zones. These include the Acer, Orient Semiconductor, and LiteOn.

Great Sun Optoelectronics, a leading manufacturer of TFT-LCD, has signed a $30-million contract with the Clark Free Port Zone for the manufacture of flat panels over a three-year period.

RayShine Photonics is also setting up a $2-million manufacturing plant for LED (light-emitting diodes) modification activities in the Subic Bay Free Port Zone. The company produces an LCD that is readable under all lighting conditions, including direct sunlight.

Another Taiwanese utility company, Formosa Heavy Industries, will be investing $700 million in two power projects – a 246-megawatt coal-fired plant in Toledo, Cebu and a 140-megawatt coal-fired plant in La Paz, Iloilo – under a joint venture agreement with Global Business Power Corp. Construction started last January and the plants are expected to be completed in 2010.

The Philippine investment forms part of the Formosa Plastics Group’s aggressive plan for worldwide expansion, with $22 billion earmarked for investments in several countries, said Antonio Basilio of the Manila Economic Cultural Office (MECO).

Yu said representatives of the two countries are active in promoting smooth trade and foreign relations.

“We are very close neighbors and the Philippines has a very active representative here, Antonio Basilio, and our representative in Manila, Donald Lee, is equally active.”

Among the bilateral memoranda of agreement already signed by the Philippines and Taiwan are double taxation, promotion, and scientific cooperation.

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