DPP Symposium: encouraging Taiwanese youth to take on entrepreneurship

DPP Chair and Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-Wen attended her third “Ing’s Policy Salon” on Dec. 2, during which she answered questions and discussed much-debated topics such as tuition and employment.

Chair Tsai encouraged the young generation to start their own enterprises, saying that it is also the government’s responsibility to actively promote young entrepreneurs. She suggested that not only should the administration provide start-up loans, but they should also create a system of support to help guide young enterprises with industrial structure to lower risks.

The symposium was titled “Changing the Present – Letting Our Youth See the Future”, and it took place at the Taipei Mayor’s Salon, with a crowd of twenty-two people, composed largely of college students. During the event, Chair Tsai first announced her youth policy then answered five questions posed by participants during the Q&A session.

On this day before the Presidential Candidate Debate, youth volunteers from the support group "Students for Tsai Ing-wen" presented information they had collected and amassed into four scrolls, given to Chair Tsai as a present by four female students. The scrolls touched on topics such as "high tuition prices", "high real estate prices", "low youth employment rates", "high youth job-loss rates", and the "unclear future of the nation", hoping that Chair Tsai could address these issues at the debate.

Chair Tsai stressed the importance of creating equal opportunities for students in the pursuit of their educational careers, and indicated her plan to adjust the ratio of private and public universities as not to allow the differing of admission rates based on family backgrounds. She also doesn’t hope for students to feel the necessity to travel far from their homes for school, and expects schools to reserve a certain number of spots for admission of local students.

Tsai thinks that student loans should allow for the state to establish trust funds as a guarantee, to lower familial economic pressure and prevent recent college graduates from succumbing to the stress of repaying their debts before securing a stable income. Regarding the problem of student residences, Tsai plans on constructing dormitories on public lands and hopes to reach the quota of sixty percent. She also expects to offer either free room & board or a NT$3,000 per month subsidy for students from disadvantaged families.

The topic social residential policy was also brought up, wherein they plan to build social residences in the metropolitan areas which will be offered only for lease and not for sale; this policy will hopefully make the city a more plausible residence option for the younger generation. Chair Tsai said she hopes that social residences of this fashion will one day take up ten percent of all Taiwanese residential buildings, and that medium and long term plans can be constructed to offer to students as a way out of the skyrocketing real estate prices.

Additionally, Tsai also indicated that Taiwan should model itself after the European system of social benefits in order to employ public spaces for use of nurseries and day cares with government-provided services. This would allow for the administration to develop the foundations for a system of child care through government-operated or non-profit organizations, which would not only assure quality but also make the services affordable to young parents.

Chou Wei-Hsun, a student of political science at Soochow University, expressed concerns on how to solve the youth unemployment crisis. The solution, said Tsai, was to create a liaison between the younger generation and industries. She said that industries have to work on quality control, to better provide employment options for the youth. She further said that schools can also work to cooperate with industries in helping students make connections with local business, facilitating the post-graduation job hunt. She also encouraged students to explore options before acquiring their degree, otherwise they may face a two to three year hiatus before finding employment, she said.

In real estate agent Hsu Shih-Ying’s question, she reflected upon the inability of the younger generations to afford houses, to which Tsai professed her worries about the unreasonably high prices of real estate. She hopes to lower housing costs and implement the social residency policy to help ameliorate the conditions by using public societal residences built on public lands and by renovating older communities. Because social residences will be only available for lease, the private market will not affect the prices, leaving housing more affordable for lower incomes.

Concerning the views of Lin Yu-Chan, a student of political science at Tamkang University, on talent nurturing, Tsai stated that there are flaws in the current educational system. Many businesses are having difficulty finding people, and vice versa, in the complex job market, which calls for a necessary change in the policies of many universities. She presses for college students to begin planning their futures and keep an eye out for opportunities while they are still in school, and put whatever free time they have to good use and to re-educate themselves. Tsai also states that the government should aid students with business liaisons to facilitate the transition.

Regarding an inquiry on how to decrease the resource gap between public and private universities, Chair Tsai promised to augment the number of public universities, allowing for more student attendance public schools and the lowering of tuition fees for private universities. Underprivileged students will also be offered grants to compensate for their economic difficulties.