S. Korea’s youth unemployment at new high

January 15, 2015
(Courtesy of Statistics Korea)

(Courtesy of Statistics Korea)

By Yoon Ja-young

The jobless rate for young people reached a record high last year, while a significant number of youth ended up with temporary jobs.

Statistics Korea’s survey for 2014 showed the number of people with jobs went up 533,000 to 25.6 million in the biggest annual rise in 12 years.

Considering most of the new jobs were taken up by people in their 50s, experts say it is quite doubtful that they are quality jobs.

The youth jobless rate rose to a record 9 percent, up 1 percentage point, while the overall unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent, up 0.4 percentage points from 2013.

The LG Economic Research Institute said in a report that finding a career right after graduation had huge significance.

“If young people who have completed their education remain unemployed for a long time, they lose the opportunity to acquire skills and accumulate human capital at the right time,” said researcher Lee Hye-lim.

“When the unemployment lasts for a long time, the person not only loses the will to find a job or work, but also loses the knowledge or the skills they have learned at school,” she said.

“When considering that Koreans invest a huge amount of time and money into education, the loss is even bigger here.”

On top of the high unemployment, young people are suffering from job insecurity — many start their career as non-regular workers with one-year contracts or shorter.

According to a Statistics Korea survey of young people who entered the job market last year, 19.5 percent found jobs with a contract of one year or shorter.

“A total of 34.8 percent of the rookies said they would have to quit at the end of their contract, or continue working there temporarily. In other words, many young people are starting their careers in unstable situations,” it said.

This is worrisome because where they start affects their lifetime careers — statistics show that those who start as non-regular workers are likely to continue like this, having to find a new job every two years, or even become unemployed.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures show that mobility in the job market is notably weak in Korea. Only 11.1 percent of non-regular workers succeeded in becoming regular workers after a year.

A total of 69.4 percent continued to be non-regular workers, and 19.5 percent became unemployed.

After three years, 22.4 percent became regular workers, while half remained non-regular. A total of 26.7 percent became unemployed.

Hyundai Research Institute researcher Kim Min-jung said college education should be innovative to suit employers’ needs.

“The education programs should include not only the basic academic principles but also the curriculum demanded by the business sector,” she said.

“The government should also expand financial support for highly educated researchers working at SMEs or startups.”

One Comment

  1. Franchesca

    September 14, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    One of the main problems is the lack of experience, people should try to get experience before graduation, thus it will be easier to find a job, they also should learn a certain skill, know how to do something pretty well, that will increase the likelihood of being hired.