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Sunday, December 10, 2017

The state must help athletes to transition

Gary Chen
     The Taipei Summer Universiade’s conclusion is a reminder that young athletes must consider what their professional career will be after their competitive career ends. Not too far down the road, they will need adequate professional skills to build a second career.
     Youth employability has been one of the main focuses of APEC. During last year’s APEC education ministerial meeting, the topics included how best to address rapid social change.

     Taiwan pushed for the APEC economies to expand their job markets, to implement economic policies conducive to job creation and to establish frameworks designed to further develop human resources, professional skills and skills training for young people.
     The nation has policies to assist young people with the difficulties of a career transition, such as guiding athletes who want to become trainers or staff in sports organizations; subsidizing companies employing outstanding sportspeople; promoting enterprise sports leagues; and through corporate sponsorship, enhancing the athletes’ professional standards and their participation in courses related to job-seeking, entrepreneurship and preparatory training.
     To incentivize outstanding athletes, Singapore provides full sports scholarships, while Indonesia gives economic subsidies, depending on age level.
     Taiwan provides scholarships for athletes with impressive achievements: Those ranked in the top three at an Olympic competition can earn from NT$5 million to NT$20 million (US$165,804 to US$663,218) to have sufficient funds to face future challenges.
     Given the similarities between outstanding athletes and successful entrepreneurs, sportspeople have more potential to start a business than the average person.
     The Singaporean government, in partnership with the Action Community for Entrepreneurship, has launched the Sports Excellence Entrepreneurship plan, providing athletes with entrepreneurship guidance and instruction; assistance in obtaining funding, hardware, facilities, technology and knowledge; and an interactive platform giving entrepreneurial athletes access to business networks.
     Malaysia is interested in helping its entrepreneurial youngsters hone their business skills, with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center offering business-related courses, which range from financial management to marketing that can be tailored to the entrepreneur’s needs.
     All this shows how extensive the policies of different nations, Taiwan included, are for helping young athletes find jobs, with career guidance and scholarships.
     Considering both the policies of other APEC economies and the nature of Taiwan’s education and sports systems would help the government to draw up a comprehensive policy that suits our athletes and provides them with what they need to develop their careers.
     In addition, if government, business and academia can partner together, this would hugely benefit athletes in each of the economies. Within these partnerships, the governments could play bridging roles, and create a platform that gives business and academia opportunities to cooperate and grants young athletes access to resources.
     The government should also provide businesses with resources to encourage them to sponsor young athletes, and subsidize schools so that they have adequate funding to employ coaches or offer the appropriate courses to assist young athletes.
     In this way, it would be possible to efficiently coordinate the related resources and help these athletes with their future careers.

(Gary Chen is an Assistant Research Fellow, TIER. This article is reprinted from Taipei times, September 4, 2017. Translated by Paul Cooper)

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