洋學位,土麵包——就業市場看留學情結

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1992 / 10月

文‧滕淑芬 圖‧蔡智本


炎炎夏日,十萬學子為進大學擠破頭,四年後畢業的同一批人,又為了繼續求學或就業傷透腦筋。

 

經濟富裕之後的台灣社會,留學熱潮不減,只是如今歸國博士、碩士已「滿街跑」,使得近年來高學歷就業市場出現前所未有的熱絡景象。這對求職者而言卻未必是好消息,從方帽子到麵包的距離因而拉長了不少。


根據行政院青輔會的統計資料顯示,七十九年自海外歸國求職的留學生人數為二千八百六十三人,去年增加為三千二百六十四人。青輔會預估,今年全年回國求職人數將突破四千人。

海外學子打道回府

莘莘學子向西方「取經、鍍金」的留學熱潮,一直帶有濃厚的功利色彩,如移民、找個好工作。如今歐美經濟不景氣,失業率居高不下;加上滯留在美最多的大陸留學生,為了留下來,甚至願意只拿三分之一的薪水,打亂市場行情。相形之下,台灣經濟成長的誘因,工作機會條件優厚,使得近兩年人才回流盛況空前。只是,由於出國留學者過多,留美學生實在已非奇貨可居。

去年五月拿到美國佛羅里達州立大學行銷傳播碩士的洪小姐,暑假回台找工作,找了三個月到處碰壁。心灰意冷之下,只好再度赴美,再念一個她認為「有助於」進新竹科學園區的電腦學位。

博士論文尚未完成的準博士陳先生,在得知母校有空缺時,就在今年暑假先行返國面試。之前他特別去拜望以前師長,老師叮嚀說,不僅要表現出學有專精,還要有非常「可用」的樣子。也就是說得強調自己從專業科目到通識教育大一英文、憲法,科科可教,「既專又博」。

就業市場人擠人

這波歸國熱潮使得國立大學理工科系聘請教師時,一、兩名缺額動輒有上百位留美博士申請。像國立中正大學機械研究所擬聘四名師資,收到三百多位擁有博士學位者來函,歸國博士佔三分之二,其中不乏在國外已工作十年者;清華大學電機系需要兩名教授,一年內陸續接到二百多封應徵函,「回來的人增加,不只是趨勢,已經是事實」,系主任兼所長陳永昌表示。

民間企業也有相同感受。一家雜誌社負責人表示,最近該單位求才時,不但有多位拿到美國傳播學位者前來應徵,還有加州大學電機系畢業的。

從就業市場的需求來看,青輔會調查去年七月底到今年七月底,各機關(大專院校、研究單位、政府機構和主動來求才的大企業)對具國外碩士以上學位的人力需求狀況,統計共有四千六百八十八個工作機會,其中對工科(二千零卅七個工作機會)、商科(一千四百九十個工作機會)畢業生的需求最殷,佔全部就業市場的四分之三。而去年歸國的留學生也以這兩種科系學生最多,工科八百五十九人,商科一千二百九十八人。留學生市場看來似乎頗為樂觀,但實際狀況並非如此單純。

以留學生回來最多的商科畢業生而言,由於新銀行陸續開業,新、舊銀行之間挖角或者補充新血,都有空缺。單是台灣銀行,青輔會今年就向他們推薦了三百名商科留學生,其中只有卅一名符合需求予以進用。此外,拜六年國建之賜,「錢」途光明的營建業也受到留學生青睞。中華工程顧問公司人事部門舉了個例子說,七十七、七十八年間,即使他們公開刊登廣告,來應徵者少之又少;這兩年他們根本不用登廣告,每年主動將求職資料投寄過來者就有六百多人,其中具有國外學位者佔十分之一,「選擇空間很大。」

台北市捷運局的情況也非常類似,人事部門表示,上個會計年度進用人事時共收到七百廿七封求職資料,其中由青輔會推薦而來的留學生就佔一半。

書念得愈久,工作愈難找?

最近兩項統計數字也反映出,高學歷者比低學歷謀職困難的現象。

根據行政院青輔會調查專科以上教育程度和工作機會的資料顯示,去年(八十年)大學以上求職、求才的求供倍數為近三年最低。也就是說,去年專科程度的求職者,平均每人有三.三六個工作機會;大學程度者有二.三一個工作機會;研究所程度以上者機會最少,只有一.二個工作機會。

此外,勞委會委託政大經濟研究所在今年四月完成「台灣地區失業結構之改變及其政策含義」的報告也發現,我們的失業率雖然比美國低,但失業者平均失業時間卻比美國長;而且從民國六十八年到七十九年,台灣地區失業者平均失業時間竟有隨教育程度提高而拉長的現象。大學和大學以上教育程度失業者平均失業時間為廿一.三周(相當於四個多月),比只具自修教育程度者失業時間(十四.七週)高出百分之四十五。

負責執行這項報告的研究者之一、政大經濟研究所副教授黃仁德解釋,從產業結構的供求面而言,需要高學歷的工作機會原本就較少;另外則是因為受高等教育者對工作的待遇、環境、職位都比較挑剔,「眼高手低的情況非常嚴重」,否則照理說,高學歷者的人際關係、學識、經驗、找工作的技巧都比低學歷者好,不應該那麼久找不到合適工作。

一位省屬行庫的副總經理,就在一次私下聊天的場合透露,他那從美國拿了企管碩士學位回來的兒子,之前在美國找了三個月工作,返台後又找了三個月工作,總認為自己應有更好的機會,不願「騎驢找馬」,因此至今仍在「家媄菕v。「靠我過日子」,他搖頭苦笑。

高學歷心態

國外學位已不能保證更大的「麵包」,但由今年出國留學生人數並未減少的情況看來,留學熱似乎已無法剎車,這又是為什麼?

「學位能滿足中國父母光宗耀祖的期望」,心理學家吳靜吉分析,中國父母對子女教育的態度是,只要孩子願意念書,勒緊褲帶、花再多的錢也願意,也覺得值得。要求個人置身於社會價值觀之外,並不容易。

何況在台灣社會,謀得好工作後,想要「更上一層樓」,學位還真是佔了舉足輕重的地位。吳靜吉開玩笑說,全世界部會首長博士比例最高的國家,應該就是我們。看看立法委員、國大代表侯選人也個個頂著博士頭銜。「博士學位不只是目標,也是工具」,他說。

再者,在台灣社會,英文能力象徵了國際化、視野廣。在種種微妙的心理下,出國讀書就是學英文、加強專業領域英文能力的最好方式,也就加強了自信心。

兩年前到美國念工商組織心理學博士學位的張裕隆以自身經驗說,當年他在一家外商電腦公司人力資源部門工作,同事大多有外國學位,即使能力相差無幾,因為自己英文表達能力不好,總是覺得「心虛」。留過學的人比較敢表達,如果又在外商公司工作,那就更覺如魚得水。

複雜的留學情結

留學除了學位,還有其它「附加價值」。不少台灣女性出國留學還有個附帶目的,就是尋找另一半。

大學畢業工作六年的李小姐幾經掙扎,仍然決定放棄月薪五萬的工作,在今年初出國。她說,在台灣尋尋覓覓,感情就是沒有著落;異國時地不同,生活、功課壓力大,比較需要感情扶持,機會也許多些,因此不免心懷「憧憬」。

吳靜吉輔導女學生出國時,都會問她們想不想結婚,選擇排名水準相近的學校時,就會建議她們到理工科系強、男生多的學校。「結婚是可以經營的,只要把它當作一件重要的事看待,想結婚不必不好意思」,吳靜吉說。

當然功利色彩之外,在經濟富裕後,也有人藉留學這樣完全陌生的時空解放自己,讓自己獲得真正的自由。

民間一家留學代辦中心顧問陸秀麗分析,國人生活富裕之後,不論是花父母的錢,或是自己省下一筆錢,留學已不像以往那麼困難。一成不變的日子過久了,覺得生活被定型,需要變化;另一方面是為了和以往的方便性切斷,從陌生環境中印證成就感,再一次肯定自我。

以前留學生是苦讀「書生型」,一半時間待在圖書館,昏天暗地的念書;另一半是空的,沒有社交生活,讀書之外就是到餐館打工。「如果以前是忍受,現在就是享受留學生活」,陸秀麗說。

學位不是終點

的確,無論是否「國外自有顏如玉,國外自有黃金屋」,絕大多數留過學的人,都肯定留學的價值,對於開拓心胸、放寬視野應該有所助益。

政治大學新聞研究所副教授鍾蔚文對此價值判斷表示贊同,但他仍要提醒準留學生,知識不是靜態的,到了國外,客觀環境的視野、景觀,多元而複雜,但是如果沒有敏銳的觀察力,仍然會用原來框架思考,入寶山而空手回。「身歷其境不是絕對因素,自己才是主體」,在他看來,學校教育不應該是「現買現賣」;拿到學位不是終點,並不表示對社會就有貢獻。只看現成成果的後遺症,就是忽略了「知識的全面性」,忘記了人讀完書,仍然要學習、成長。

從小到大念了一、二十年書的台灣學生,確實少有人讓自己成為「主體」。在大學聯考錄取率日益提高,大學畢業生急速增加的時代,如果想藉著到國外「念更多一點書」來製造自己的優勢,千萬別忘了捧著碩士、博士頭銜找工作的歸國學人,也已經「滿街都是」了。

〔圖片說明〕

P.124

一波波負笈國外留學的台灣學子,如今紛紛收拾行囊,回國開創前程。

P.126

頂著「金字招牌」洋學位的求職者,並不保證就能得到更大「麵包」。

P.128

留在異地發展或返鄉謀職,權衡之下,如何決定?

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Foreign Study, Domestic Bread--Overseas Students in the Job Market

Teng Sue-feng /photos courtesy of Tsai Chih-pen /tr. by Christopher Hughes

In the heat of the summer 100,000 students go all out to get into university; four years later, the same group of students are faced with the worry of how to continue their studies or find employment.

Following the economic prosperity that has come to Taiwanese society, enthusiasm for overseas study has not diminished, only now those who return holding doctorates or masters' degrees are "filling the streets" so that in recent years there has appeared unprecedented activity in the graduate employment market. For job hunters this is not necessarily good news with the distance from mortarboard to making the daily bread being far from short.


According to statistics from the National Youth Commission of the Executive Yuan, 2,863 students returned from overseas study in 1990, and the number increased to 3,264 last years. The Commission predicts that the number coming back to seek work will this year break through the 4,000 mark.

Overseas students beating a path back home: The fashion for large numbers of students to go West to seek their fortune has always been strongly colored by material gain: such as immigrants, and those seeking a good job. Now the economic scene in the United States and Europe is not so good, however, with high unemployment that shows no sign of coming down. In addition, the greatest number of foreign students in the United States now come from mainland China and their willingness to work for low wages has thrown the job market into confusion. Such a situation, along with the bonus of Taiwan's economic growth and excellent conditions for work opportunities, has led to an unprecedented flowing back of personnel over the last two years. The only problem is that, because so many students go to study abroad, those who have studied in the United States can no longer get positions just by the grace of their being rare commodities.

A certain Miss Hung, who in May last year got a master's degree in marketing communications from Florida State University, came back to Taiwan in the summer holiday to try to find work. Searching for three months she just came up against a brick wall. With downcast heart, all she could do was go back to the United States to study for a qualification in computer studies that she thought would help get her into the Hsinchu Science Park.

Then there is Mr. Chen. He has not yet finished his doctoral thesis but found time in the summer holiday this year to come back to test the water. He specially went to call on his former school teacher. The teacher exhorted him to not only show up well in his studies but also to have a very "usable" appearance. That is to say, stressing that he can teach both specialist subjects and common ones such as English and constitution studies--"both specialist and broad."

A crowded job market: The tide of returnees has meant that when the science and engineering departments of the national universities seek to take on teachers, more than a hundred holders of United States doctorates apply for one or two vacancies. The mechanical engineering graduate school of National Chung Cheng University wanted to take on four teachers and received letters from more than 300 applicants holding doctorates, two-thirds of whom had returned from overseas, with a number already having had ten stars of foreign work experience; National Tsing Hua University's department of electrical engineering needed two professors and received a stream of more than 200 applications within a year. "The increase in returnees from abroad is not just a trend, it is a fact," says head of the department and director of the school, Chen Yung-chang.

Private enterprises have the same feelings. One magazine manager says that when he was recently looking for personnel, not only did a number of graduates in mass communications apply, but also someone who was a graduate in electrical engineering from the University of California.

Looking at it from the point of view of the requirements of the job market, the National Youth Commission survey from the end of last year to the end of July this year found that there were 4,688 job opportunities in various organizations (higher-education institutions, research units, government organizations), for people holding overseas master's degrees and doctorates, among which the needs for graduates of engineering sciences (2,037) and business sciences ( 1,490) were highest, making up three-quarters of the total job market. The number of graduates in these departments returning from overseas study was also the highest, with engineering sciences accounting for 859 and commercial sciences 1,298. So it looks as though the job market for overseas students is good. But the situation is actually not that simple.

For students who have come back from foreign study, with a stream of new banks opening, there is a need for both old and new banks to bring in fresh blood, all having staff shortfalls. The National Youth Commission this year recommended to them 300 students who had studied commercial sciences overseas, but only 3l of them proved suitable. Apart from this, thanks to the gift of the Six-Year National Development Plan, flourishing construction companies have also received the attention of students who have studied overseas. Between 1988 and 1989 they very rarely had responses to their advertising campaigns, but for these past two years they have basically not advertised at all and still had more than 600 people posting them resumes in the hope of getting a job. One-tenth of these people were students who have studied overseas, so "the range for selection is very big."

The situation at Taipei's Mass Rapid Transit System has been similar. The personnel office says that in the last fiscal year they received 727 resumes through the post, among which half were students who had studied overseas and been recommended by the National Youth Commission.

The longer you study the harder to get work? Two recent statistics compare the difficulty of finding work for graduates from higher education compared to less qualified people.

According to the National Youth Commission's survey into job opportunities for those who have studied at technical college level and above, last year saw the lowest demand for three years. That is to say, last year there was an average of 3.36 opportunities for every technical college graduate seeking work, while for university graduates there were 2.3 vacancies for each one. The opportunities for those graduating from graduate school were smallest, at only 1.2 per student.

In addition to this, in April the Council of Labor Affairs of the Executive Yuan commissioned National Chengchi University's economics graduate school to do a report on "Changes in the Structure of Unemployment in the Taiwan Area and its Implications for Policy." This survey discovered that although Taiwan's unemployment rate is lower than that of the United States, the length of periods of unemployment is longer. Moreover, there was also the phenomenon that, from 1979 to 1990, the higher one's education the longer the average period of unemployment. Unemployment for those of university education and above was 21.3 weeks, which is 45 percent longer than the length for those who were self-trained.

One of the conductors of this survey, Associate Professor Huang Jen-te of National Chengchi University's Graduate School of Economics speaks about this from the aspect of the requirements of the structure of manufacturing industry, which provides less opportunities for those with a higher education. This is also because those with a higher education are more selective about wages, work environment and status, with the situation of "sights high and hands low" being very serious. Other-wise it is reasonable to say that the personal connections, academic knowledge, experience, and skill in finding work all augur better than they do for those with a lower standard of education, so those with a higher education should not need to look that long for suitable work.

One deputy director, talking in private, revealed with a rather pained smile that his son got an M.B.A. in the United States and had found three months work in America and also previously found three months work in Taiwan. This meant he always thought his opportunities should be better and was not willing to "get on his bike," and is sitting at home and "depending on me to pass his days."

An overseas qualification can no longer guarantee a bigger slice of the cake. However, seeing as the numbers going abroad to study this year have not decreased, it seems that there is no way to put a brake on the fever for overseas study. Why is this?

The psychology of qualifications: "Academic qualifications can satisfy the wish to bring glory to the family which is held by Chinese parents," analyzes psychologist Wu Ching-chi. The attitude of Chinese parents towards to education of their children is that so long as they are willing to study, belts will be tightened and more money spent and all will be worthwhile. To want to establish yourself outside the social followship system is certainly not easy.

In Taiwanese society, after finding a good job, for those wanting to go "one floor higher" qualifications still really make the difference. Wu Ching-chi says with a smile that our ministries and commissions must have the highest ratio of Ph.D.s in the world. Look at our lawmakers and the candidates for the National Assembly elections, all of them have Ph.D.s. "A doctorate is not just a sign, it is also a tool," he says.

Again, in Taiwanese society proficiency in English is a symbol of one's internationalization and wide ambition. Psychologically, going abroad to study is the best way to study English and strengthen one's English ability in a professional field, and thus also strengthen one's self-confidence.

Chang Yu-long, who went to the United States two years ago to study for a doctorate in the psychology of industrial and commercial organizations, speaks from personal experience. In those years he worked in the personnel department of a foreign computer company where his colleagues mostly had foreign qualifications. Although their ability was about the same as his, because his English was not good he always lacked confidence. Those who had studied abroad dared to express themselves more. If they ever work again in a foreign company they will be in their element.

The complex emotions of overseas students: Apart from qualifications, overseas study has other "supplementary values." Many female students who go overseas do so with the ulterior motive of finding their other half. Miss Li is a university graduate who worked for six years then decided to give up her NT$50,000 monthly salary to go abroad early this year. She had the feeling of getting no results searching in Taiwan, while abroad it is different. There is a lot of pressure from life and homework, requiring more emotional support, so the opportunities are somewhat greater and you cannot avoid having some feeling of longing.

When Wu Ching-chi advises female students who go abroad to study he asks them if they want to get married. When they select a university he recommends them to go to a school with strong science and engineering departments and a high number of male students. "Marriage can be managed. If you look on it as an important affair, then there is no need to be embarrassed about wanting to get married," says Wu Ching-chi.

Of course, apart from such utilitarian considerations, in the wake of economic prosperity there are also those people who want to find liberation in a completely strange place, and obtain true freedom for themselves.

Lu Hsiu-li is an advisor to an overseas student agency and her analysis is that with life being wealthier, no matter whether it is spending your parents' money or your own savings, studying abroad is not as difficult as it used to be. After a life of not much variety one feels that things have stagnated and there is a need for a change. Another aspect is making a break with the past; getting a feeling of achievement in a strange environment is a way of reaffirming one's self again.

In the past, foreign study was tough. Half the time was spent in the library reading the whole day, the other half was empty with no social life. Apart from studying, all you could do was go and work in the canteen. "If in the past it was a matter of putting up with it, now it is a matter of enjoying it," says Lu Hsiu-li.

Qualifications are not the end: In fact, no matter whether or not there is treasure to be found abroad, the overwhelming majority of overseas students confirm the value of studying overseas. For broadening one's personality and horizons it should be of great benefit.

Associate professor Chung Wei-wen of National Chengchi University's Graduate School of Journalism agrees with this judgement. Yet he still wants to wake up potential overseas students to the fact that knowledge is not a passive thing. When you go abroad, you can see the environment in all its pluralism and complexity, but if you do not have the ability to make acute observations and just hold on to your fixed frame of thinking, then it is like returning empty handed from a mountain of treasures. "Being in another environment is not the only factor--the subject is one's self," he says. In his view, education should not be "now buying, now selling," and getting qualifications is not the be all and end all and is certainly not a sign of having made a real contribution to society. The after effect of just looking at one's immediate achievements is to overlook the "holistic nature of knowledge," and forget that when you finish reading your books, you still need to study and grow up.

Taiwanese students study for ten or twenty years, yet few among them will allow themselves to become the "subject." With the pass rate of the universities joint entrance examination getting ever higher, and in an age when the number of university graduates is rapidly increasing, if you want to go abroad for further study to make yourself even more outstanding, you had better not forget that M.A.s and Ph.D.s are already filling the streets.

[Picture Caption]

Wave after wave of Taiwanese students studying overseas are packing their bags to come back and carve themselves out a future.

Those with the status symbol of having studied overseas have no guarantee of getting a bigger slice of the cake when it comes to looking for work.

How does one come to a decision when weighing up whether to stay abroad and develop or go back home and try to get a job?

 

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