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Launch of 2015 Michael Page Salary & Employment Outlook report

On 29 January, the 2015 Salary & Employment Outlook report for Greater China was released at a lunch jointly hosted by Michael Page Greater China and the ECCT's Human Resources committee. The report, presented in association with the ECCT, provides an outlook for the regional recruitment market in 2015. A summary of the report was presented at the lunch by Chris Preston, Head of the Taiwan Office of the Page Group.

Unlike previous reports, which examined employment developments in these markets separately, the latest report examines Greater China as a regional market with multiple components. The report incorporates the views of more than 2,000 employer survey respondents in addition to feedback from corporate human resources directors. The report also contains long-term predictions from experts in innovation and demographics to help readers gain a better appreciation for where the employment market will be heading in the years to come.

The report identifies bullish attitudes on hiring among employers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Among respondents to the report's featured survey, over 53% plan to increase headcount this year, and 47% say hiring in 2015 will be stronger than it was last year. Looking at Taiwan alone, the numbers are even higher than average - 63% of employers in Taiwan surveyed said that they planned to increase headcount. This should be seen as an encouraging sign for Taiwan, according to Preston.

Employee turnover is still generally driven by the desire to increase salary, although regional differences exist. For example, according to employers surveyed, 30% of professionals in Taiwan will switch jobs to improve salaries but 33% of professionals think that it is important to achieve a work-life balance. According to Preston, while professionals looking to stay in Taiwan are likely to more motivated to change jobs in order to improve their work/life balance, if they are seeking a higher salary, they will most likely look overseas, often to China where comparable salaries for the same jobs are much higher.

As to the impact of environmental factors (such as high pollution in Chinese cities) and whether this is luring Taiwanese professionals already located in China back home, Preston said that there are cases of this. However, the lure of financial rewards and career advancement is still strong and he believes that there is still a net exodus of Taiwanese professionals overseas. He expressed the opinion that while many young Taiwanese professionals would prefer to live and work in Taiwan, comparative rewards (salaries, career and training prospects) in Taiwan are not attractive enough to induce them to stay in Taiwan.

As was the case last year, salaries are generally expected to rise slightly faster on the mainland than in the other markets. This will increase the gap between salaries offered in China and those in Taiwan (which have been relatively stagnant for a long time). Employers region-wide face high salary expectations. When they are unable to compete (for example Taiwanese firms are often not able to offer salaries as high as mainland rivals), they often address these expectations by offering alternatives such as career development, training and flexible benefits.

Another observation gleaned from the report is that employers increasingly value "soft" skills such as communication and commercial acumen when making recruitment decisions. According to Preston, Taiwanese professionals in general continue to be highly valued, especially in mainland China, given their relatively high level of education, professional skills, language ability and exposure to western corporate culture and markets.