Taiwan expert touts Canada’s immigration policy against population ageing

TAIPEI (The China Post) — As the world becomes a large, globalized society, more and more new immigrants are bringing their own cultures and experiences to new countries.

Tamkang University (淡江大學) professor Keng Kim-yung (何景榮) is a second-generation new immigrant from Indonesia and he believes that Taiwan should follow the example of Canada’s “Provincial Nominee Program” (PNP, 省提名計畫) to effectively help the country improve as a whole and solve the gap between urban and rural areas.

Keng explained that although Taiwan can adopt the “point-based system” (評點制) like Singapore, where new immigrants will be evaluated based on their comprehensive scores, including their educational background and many more, this would be insufficient to solve the lack of manpower and professionals in rural areas.

To resolve this issue, Keng is optimistic that the PNP immigration policy is the way to go.

What the PNP system in Canada does is its federal government will let local governments decide what type of people they need. For example, Toronto may look for new immigrants with backgrounds in industrial fields while Nova Scotia may look for those whose expertise lies in marine and fishing-related fields, Keng explained.

Looking to Taiwan, over the years, a large number of young people have moved from rural areas to big cities, Keng continued, creating the widespread problem of the insufficient labor force in rural counties and cities.

With the younger generation unwilling to engage in agriculture and fishery-related work, many are worried about what would become of these fields in the future. Due to labor shortages, these industries have to rely on a large number of migrant workers and new immigrants to sustain them, sometimes even hiring undocumented migrant workers to keep their business afloat.

With Canada’s PNP, “different provinces and areas have different requirements for talents needed by new immigrants,” Keng said, adding that in adopting this program, Taiwan can resolve relevant issues and attract qualified talents into its society.

Local governments have a better understanding of the problems industries face in their sector, as well as the severity of rural flight, he added.

He pointed out that for Hualien County’s Shoufeng Township (壽豐鄉), talents who are well-versed in the aquaculture fishery may be preferred, meaning they could welcome new immigrants who may be from countries that are known for its aquaculture or fisheries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

In another instance, Tainan may be more focused on its development in science and technology parks, Keng said, adding that their need for talents would differ.

New immigrants from Malaysia, Thailand, and even Bangladesh, India, and other countries in South Asia would be a great addition to Tainan, then.

Keng said the point of the PNP system is that each country’s respective advantageous industries can be recognized, and through welcoming their citizens to specific counties and cities in Taiwan where priority will be given to migrant workers and immigrants with relevant backgrounds and knowledge, Taiwan can begin to close the gap between areas.

Only through improving the immigration policy can we effectively solve the problem of a lack of manpower in industrial fields, Keng said, adding that Taiwan needs to do better and the New Southbound Policy (新南向政策) needs to be strengthened as well.