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Activating Important Agricultural-industry Human Resources in Taitung

2021-03-02

Activating Important Agricultural-industry Human Resources in Taitung

Zhan Qin-xiang1


Abstract

Seasonal labor shortages in Taitung are a serious problem, especially for the crops of sugar apples, pineapples, tea, citrus fruits, and daylilies, which demand the most manpower during the busiest times each year. In 2015, the Ministry of Labor launched its Pilot Incentive Program for Encouraging Employment in the Agricultural Industry and formed related agricultural service teams at Farmers’ Associations throughout Taiwan. The following year, the Council of Agriculture launched its Program to Improve Seasonal Labor Shortages 2.0, which initiated the use of minimum-security prison inmates in agricultural work to alleviate the shortage problem. This study looks at the operations of the agricultural service team of Taitung and the agricultural service team of inmates, including in-depth interviews and qualitative analysis to gain an understanding of policy advocacy and effectiveness. Those from the agricultural service team of Taitung interviewed included nine individuals who were employers, employment agency personnel, and Farmers’ Association agricultural extension personnel. Those from the agricultural service team of inmates interviewed included 12 individuals who were minimum-security prison administrators, inmates, and Farmers’ Association agricultural extension personnel. The study found that after the agricultural service team of Taitung was formed, even though employment agents and Farmers’ Associations stated they had a sufficient source of human resources for scheduling, employers claimed there were still labor shortages, this being a result of the inability of employers and laborers to communicate sufficiently, in turn leading to the inability to make effective use of the available human resources. In addition, employers stated that they cared most about the usefulness and scheduling flexibility of their human resources. Furthermore, the study found that after the agricultural service team of inmates was formed, although most employers were satisfied with the efficacy of the program, they claimed a lack of scheduling flexibility due to the limited number of inmates and the operational mode restrictions of the program. Thus, the programs failed to serve as a driving force in activating agricultural-industry human resources. The author suggests that a nationwide human resource platform be established which integrates existing human resources and includes a complete agricultural-industry educational training program to boost laborer quality and that an agricultural human resource competency map be formulated, both of which will help resolve the problem of seasonal labor shortages over time.

 

Key words: seasonal labor shortages, human resource activation, human resource scheduling, human resources


Assistant researcher in the Department of Agricultural Extension at the Taitung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station of the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan.