Social Psychological Factors Affecting the Employment of Graduate Students in Taiwan

Article excerpt

In this study the researchers use principal factor analysis to identify the factors affecting the competitiveness of college graduate students in the job market, based on a sample of senior students enrolled in an undergraduate school. The analysis revealed 5 factors that influence the students' employment prospects: learning ability, foreign language ability, cooperation, information technology, and interpersonal relations. We also analyze the effect of differences in gender and family economic circumstances in relation to the 5 factors, and conclude that these influence both students' employment prospects and their career planning.

Keywords: social psychological factors, college graduate students, career planning, employment, Taiwan.

Until recently, Taiwan had a positive economic growth rate. In contrast to European countries and the United States, with a rate of unemployment of less than 3%, unemployment was not an immediate problem in Taiwan. However, owing to political changes, stagnation of the world economy, and the magnet effect of economic development in Mainland China, Taiwan is not only experiencing negative economic growth, but also the unemployment rate has risen above 5%. At the same time, many university students have chosen to continue their education in order to postpone employment and thus, so-called hidden unemployment has emerged as a human resource issue in Taiwan. In 2002, with a total number of 450,000 unemployed persons, the rate of unemployment reached 4.57%, excluding persons in the category of hidden unemployment. For the economy as a whole, the rate of unemployment continues to rise and has now reached 6.13% (Directorate General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics, Taiwan, 2009). The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has predicted that in 2010, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of Taiwan will be -9% and the number of unemployed persons in Taiwan will exceed 1 million, thus doubling the present unemployment rate of 5%. Overall, the economic situation in Taiwan is expected to worsen (40, 2009).

In recent years, a number of universities have been established in Taiwan, and in 2003, enrolment rates reached almost 100% at all universities. The rapid growth in the number of universities has lowered the quality of the students, while, at the same time, consuming scarce educational resources (Chen, Yang, & Shiau, 2006). Because of stagflation, many enterprises in Taiwan have been compelled to reduce their staff numbers in order to increase their competitiveness. Consequently, competition for jobs has intensified; this has also affected the human resources of the universities. To cope with this difficult situation, some college graduate students have opted either to continue with their education by enrolling for advanced degrees or to postpone their graduation. Since these students would otherwise be entering the job market, their consideration for recruitment will become an important issue in the job market of the future. Given this situation, the government is faced with the problem of how to allocate human resources effectively so as to create jobs for these graduates and at the same time avoid wasteful or unproductive allocation of educational funds.

While there is no shortage of labor in a stagnant economy, the quality of the workforce is poor in comparison to the quality of the workforce of a growing economy. In this economic situation the labor supply exceeds the demand for labor. An important issue facing both the government and business enterprises is how to utilize the college graduate students effectively. What types of skills should be imparted to them at the college level so that they can find jobs in the future? For their part, students need to plan their careers in advance so that they are in a position to cope with the challenging work environment. This will also ensure that national and social resources are not exhausted in that the best enterprises can select the best of the available talent and vice versa. …