Number of migrant workers in ‘3K’ industries surged by 125% in past 10 years

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Taiwan re-opened its borders to migrant workers on Nov. 11, and though around 2,000 have already arrived, the ban issued in the previous year has caused a severe labor shortage in various industries in Taiwan.

According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Labor (MOL, 勞動部), in the past 10 years, the number of migrant workers has surged to nearly 260,000, among which, the number of workers in “3K” industry (also known as the “3D” industry for “dirty, dangerous, difficult”) has increased the most.

As more foreign workers toll away at 3K jobs, they are more likely to get hurt, and a report published in 2020 by the Control Yuan showed that the rate of occupational injuries sustained by thousands of migrant workers is almost twice that of domestic workers.

The MOL statistics report also showed that as of October 2021, the total number of migrant workers in Taiwan is about 680,000, including 449,000 working in industrial or manufacturing jobs and 230,000 working as caregivers.

In terms of nationality, migrant workers from Indonesia make up the most accounting for 35.36% of all foreign workers in Taiwan, followed by Vietnam (35.05%), the Philippines (21.17%), and Thailand (8.42%).

Compared with the same month in 2011, the total number of migrant workers was about 420,000, with migrants working in industrial industries tally at about 224,000, and those working as caregivers at about 196,000.

It can be inferred that in the past 10 years, the number of migrant workers increased by about 260,000, with those in manufacturing jobs increased by about 225,000, and those working as caregivers increased by about 34,000.

Indonesia and Vietnam are still the biggest countries of origin of migrant workers in Taiwan.

In terms of migrant workers distribution in cities, Taoyuan City has the largest number of migrant workers, which increased from 73,884 in 2011 to 113,903 in 2021.

Closely following behind are New Taipei City and Taichung City, with New Taipei City increasing from 66,636 to 89,719 and Taichung increasing from 58,028 to 102,076.

Taichung thus surpassed New Taipei City in 2016 as the city with the second-largest number of migrant workers working there.

Meanwhile, a careful study of industries showed that the “3K” industry had the largest increase in the number of migrant workers, from 137,775 in 2011 to 314,481 in 2021, seeing an increase of 125%.

According to the MOL’s report in 2020, there are around 58,000 businesses categorized as “3K” industries, and most are small to medium-sized companies which perform special manufacturing processes or operation systems, such as casting, surface treatment, printing, dyeing, and more.

As a result of the work being difficult, many Taiwanese are unwilling to do it, leading to the industry facing a shortage of labor and having a high demand for migrant workers.