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One in Two Recent College Graduates: “Do You Have Work For Me?”

One in Two Recent College Graduates: “Do You Have Work For Me?”

Posted August. 13, 2004 21:58,   


A certain Mr. Kim (28), who graduated from “K” university with a degree in Business Management last year, has applied for more than 50 job openings so far to no avail. Mr. Kim has an “A” GPA, a TOEIC score higher than 900 and completed his share of an English immersion program in Australia for a year. But he has still been rejected, interview after interview.

Mr. Kim sighed, “I thought getting a job would be no problem because I majored in Business Management. As I fail again and again, the fear of being a social outcast grows bigger and bigger.”

While the unemployment rate is climbing higher due to the economic recession, one survey told us that one in two recent college graduates is “young and unemployed,” and has not found a job yet.

Considering that some have sought refuge from the unemployment hell by doing military service, some are attending graduate school or preparing for government exams, and that many colleges have had the tendency to exaggerate their graduates’ employment rate in the past, the actual employment rate may be even lower than the survey results.

Will It Go Down as Low as That of the Foreign Currency Crisis?—

In the midst of pessimistic views of the Korea economy because of the recession, the employment rate of two- and four-year college graduates was recently revealed to be in a downfall for the last three years.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Korean Educational Development Institute held an educational policy forum on August 13 at the Korea Press Center in Joong-gu, Seoul and released the results of the “Statistics of the Higher Education Graduates’ Employment” survey, which polled 527,826 people who graduated from two- or four-year colleges in either August or February of this year.

The survey showed that 317,514 individuals found jobs and that the employment rate was 66.8 percent, but that the rate dropped by 2.8 percent and 2.5 percent for two- and four-year college graduates, respectively, compared to last year’s rates.

The employment rate of four-year college graduates fell down hard in 1998 during the foreign currency crisis to 50.5 percent and recovered in 2002 to 60.7 percent, but the rate has been declining again, falling down to 59.2 percent in 2003 and 56.4 percent this year.

The employment rate of the two-year college graduates was 68.1 percent in 1999 and hiked up to 81 percent in 2001, but took a downward turn in 2002 when the rate was 80.7 percent, and it has been dropping since to 79.7 percent in 2003 and 77.2 percent in 2004.

Local Colleges Graduates and Females still having a Hard Time –

Graduates of four-year colleges in the Seoul metropolitan area showed an employment rate of 58.6 percent (with the second highest area’s rate at 54.9 percent). For two-year college graduates, those who went to colleges in other areas had a better employment rate of 81.5 percent compared to 70.2 percent of the Seoul Metropolitan area graduates.

The female graduates’ unemployment was more serious. The employment rate of the female two-year college graduates was 75.6 percent, and that of the female four-year college graduates was 53.5 percent, 3.5 and 5.8 percent lower than the male graduates.

Most of the female two-year college graduates got jobs as office assistants, bookkeepers, and nurses. The female four-year college graduates were hired as tutors in private after-school classes (Hakwons) teaching languages or arts, office assistants, and most of these graduates were working as temporary contract workers doing simple tasks.

Yonsei University Job information Center’s manager Kim Jung-hwan said, “Nowadays, even the people who passed the bar exam are going to prep schools to prepare for the training sessions at the Judicial Research and Training Institute. The hardships the job seekers feel are a lot more serious than the survey results show.”

Manager of Dongguk University Job Information Center Kim Myung-suk advised, “I tell students that applying for 30 or 40 positions is normal, so please don`t get upset even if you don’t get that job you applied for.”

In-Chul Lee inchul@donga.com