Job seekers in S. Korea face bleak outlook in 2015

November 17, 2014
(Yonhap)

In a recent FKI survey of Korea’s top 200 companies, 32 percent said they hired fewer workers this year than in 2013, and they expected this trend to continue in 2015. (Yonhap)

By Lee Hyo-sik

Job seekers will face greater difficulties landing jobs in 2015 as companies are under growing pressure to cut hiring amid the continued business slump.

According to private think tanks on Friday, the country’s job market will likely decline next year, with Samsung, Hyundai and other large groups planning to reduce the number of recruits to cope with sluggish conditions.

The bottom lines of local companies have been declining because of weakening competitiveness as a result of the won’s strength against the dollar and the yen. In addition, dampened domestic consumption has forced many businesses to cut investment and refrain from hiring.

The Korea Economic Research Institute, affiliated with the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), projected that the number of workers will increase by 350,000 in 2015, fewer than this year’s estimated 520,000. It said financial services companies in particular will hire fewer workers while downsizing the existing workforce.

The LG Economic Research Institute said public and private sector employees will increase by 510,000, down from 580,000 in 2014, while the Hyundai Research Institute puts the figure at 400,000.

In a recent FKI survey of Korea’s top 200 companies, 32 percent said they hired fewer workers this year than in 2013, and they expected this trend to continue in 2015. Only 15.1 percent said they had more workers than last year.

“We are recruiting new employees for the second half of the year,” a Hyundai Motor Group spokesman said. “The group plans to hire a total of 8,700 workers in 2014. But we haven’t decided exactly how many new employees we will add next year because we haven’t drawn up a 2015 business plan yet.”

Many businesses are having difficulties in planning amid increasingly unfavorable business environments at home and abroad.

POSCO, Korea’s largest steelmaker, has been unable to finalize its 2015 business plan, reflecting the increasing market uncertainties.

“We will employ 6,400 new workers this year, and the 2015 figure will likely be on a par with this,” a spokesman said. ”To be precise, we first need to work out our 2015 business plan.”

To make the situation even worse, many companies have decreased the size of their workforce or are planning to do so.

In the first half of the year, Samsung Life Insurance, Samsung Securities, Samsung SDI and other group affiliates let thousands of workers go through a voluntary retirement program.

Hyundai Heavy Industries also dismissed 30 percent of its executives to cope with its deteriorating bottom line. Hanwha Group reportedly plans to reduce the workforce at its solar panel unit.

Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank and other multinational financial companies here have been downsizing their workforce.

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