Focus on Taiwan

Training participants have an appetite for “soft skills” programs that address American business practices, customer service, communication, supervisory skills, and management development.

Taiwan has a population of more than 23 million people. It is a small island with a thriving economy. Its location provides a strategic opportunity for organizations that are interested in growing their Asian business. It has a diverse, well-balanced economy with industries ranging from electronic and consumer products to heavy machinery and pharmaceuticals. Currently, it is a world leader in the manufacture and export of telecommunications equipment such as computers.

Taiwan has a highly literate workforce. In fact, its educational system has garnered worldwide acclaim. This is a country that welcomes training with open arms. In fact, a national holiday recognizes teachers in Taiwan. Because of its high-tech manufacturing success, the need for workers who are able to do higher skilled work is enormous. Its stellar educational system facilitates this, as does the Taiwanese government’s strong belief in the value and benefit of training to advance the interests of its nation.

Most training is conducted in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. Most organizations prefer to offer training at off-site locations either in hotels or university training centers. Short one- to two-day programs are the norm.

Training costs in Taiwan are comparable to those in the U.S., but at times can be slightly higher. All needed training supplies and materials are usually available or can be easily sourced. Typical local training deals with safety and more technical subjects. Training participants accordingly have an appetite for “soft skills” programs that address American business practices, customer service, communication, supervisory skills, and management development.

As in most Asian countries, training participants expect the trainer to lead the class, and lecture is the preferred delivery method. They believe learning is most powerful when the knowledge comes from the trainer. As such, trainees want and expect a traditional educational experience with “the trainer as expert,” so you may need to adjust the format and structure of your training accordingly.

For the most part, Taiwanese participants welcome the opportunity to take part in training programs. The Taiwanese are a conservative and often quiet people. As Taiwan has a formal culture, it is critical for the trainer to address program participants correctly. Always start by using your trainees’ last names first. If they want you to address them differently, they will let you know.

Participants are motivated and well behaved. Harmony, order, and “saving face” are valued in Taiwan. Trainees do not want to stand out, so make sure not to highlight the performance of any one individual. Such praise could cause the individual and class to feel uncomfortable. Always focus on group performance. You may even want to debrief group performance individually as opposed to in an all-class setting.

You may experience several training challenges while conducting your program in Taiwan:

  • Because trainees may not want to “disrupt” the class, they may not share their views on the program content, especially if there is a disagreement on the information covered. It could be challenging to open participants up to another viewpoint.
  • Language barriers also could come into play. Although many Taiwanese businesspeople are familiar with English, you may wish to conduct your training in Chinese for maximum knowledge transfer. This is a common practice. Otherwise, you will need to provide written materials that can be shared with participants several weeks prior to your arrival. Using computer slides with bulleted information can help your audience better understand.
  • You may need to slow down your presentation style, and increase your use of silence to allow participants to better “digest” your content.
  • If trainees don’t understand English well, and are reticent to let you know this, you will need to adjust your vocabulary to ensure that participants have a clear understanding of your course materials.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit