Gov’t employees with English to be favored for promotion

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

Government employees with better English ability are to be given better chances of promotion. This will be the first major step planned by the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) to encourage learning English and help beef up the nation’s international competitiveness. Lee Yi-yang, chief of the Central Personnel Administration (CPA), said this was in line with the project of “cultivating e-generation talents” under the Cabinet’s “Challenge 2008 — National Development Program.” The CPA has been working on a plan to award extra performance rating points to the civil servants who have passed the English proficiency tests. With such incentives, Lee hopes that 130,000, or half, of the nation’s public servants can achieve the English proficiency certificates by passing elementary or intermediate level tests before the end of 2007. There are presently 257,000 employees working at various Cabinet departments and agencies with 130,000 under the age of 40. The CPA expects all the younger staffers to pass the language tests in the next two and half years. Under the CPA’s preliminary plan, those passing the elementary level of the General English Proficiency Test (GEPT) will be awarded with two extra points in their annual performance appraisal. Those passing the intermediate level test will earn four extra points. The CPA will let various agencies make the decision concerning the addition of extra points for employees who pass the advanced GEPT tests. Please see ENGLISH on page

But Lee clarified he CPA’s policy does not mean people whose English is poor cannot work for the government.

Upgrading the English proficiency of Taiwan nationals is part of the “Challenge 2008” program, a six-year national development plan proposed by the Executive Yuan in 2002 to maintain the country’s competitive edge while archrival China continues to make leaps and bounds in economic development.

The year of 2008 marks the year during which Beijing will host the summer Olympic Games, an international event that is expected to galvanize the overall development in mainland China. Local government officials welcomed the CPA plan, saying they need staffers with a good command of English to organize international activities. They urged the CPA to implement the measure as early as possible rather than delivering empty sermons and delaying the plan. The GEPT was developed by the nonprofit language center set up on the campus of the National Taiwan University a few years ago to encourage the study of English and help potential employees evaluate the English proficiency of job candidates.

An increasing number of universities and colleges now require graduates pass the GEPT tests before awarding them with diplomas. More corporations rely on the GEPT certificates for recruiting new talents and promotions. The CPA plans to double the number of government jobs which require higher English proficiency to 16,000 in 2007, according to government sources. The CPA plan is expected to help boost the revenue of language schools for adults since more government employees seeking promotions will use more spare time to attend English learning courses. In spite of the mushrooming children’s English schools in Taiwan, the general English proficiency of adults still lags behind most nations in the Asia-Pacific region.