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Gov`t Workers No Longer Able to Sit Tight Relying on Seniority

Gov`t Workers No Longer Able to Sit Tight Relying on Seniority

Posted February. 07, 2003 22:44,   


In South Korea, many people have believed that once you become a government worker by passing the government`s hiring exam, you will keep the position until you die. But, a change of wind is about to gush in against government workers.

The Presidential Transition Committee will reportedly reform the hiring procedure. So far, promotion of the government workers has heavily depended on seniority. In the future, however, it will be based on achievement and ability so that specialists like CPAs, attorneys, Ph.D. holders can easily have opportunities to work for the government, even after spending several years in the private sector.

In addition, to relieve the "traffic gem" clogging the advance of workers of lower ranks, a new retirement program is to be introduced, announced the committee. Under the program, if a worker decides to retire before the retirement age, the government will offer a one-year "grace period" to the worker. During that period, the worker can prepare his/her transition to a civilian job.

A senior member of the committee announced yesterday, "The system encourages people to stick to their post until the retirement age. All comes from the seniority-based promotion. Consequently, many eligible and able workers are passed over for promotion. Therefore, the less able a worker, the longer he holds onto his job. The incoming administration intends to naturally push out those `incompetent` workers by stressing achievement in determining eligibility for promotion." In fact, under the present system, a specialist could theoretically get a job with the government. But the system is not being operated as intended. Thus, 80% of the posts opened for the civilian specialists are filled up with government workers. Aware of this problem, the committee plans to overhaul the system.

Therefore, the incoming administration reportedly intends to hire an army of specialists who have licenses as CPA or attorney, or Ph.D. holders and excellent engineers. The committee envisions a system for whose operation a corporate human resources management system is to be employed. Thus, a person of lower rank could lead a team, and could be promoted to higher position more quickly. Implementation of the new system is to be handled by a task force, which in turn is supervised by the President. The task force, temporarily named Commission for Reform of Administration, will be headed by a minister-level official. It will oversee all the reform efforts of the incoming administration regarding organization of the government agencies and human resources including employment and promotion.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com